The Team

 

LAURA HUGGINS

Laura is the CEO of Wild Sky, and manager of Economic Initiatives at American Prairie Reserve. Laura focuses on shaping and promoting Wild Sky, new producer recruitment, and business development. Laura is also a former research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center and at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. She has published several books including Environmental Entrepreneurship: Markets Meet the Environment in Unexpected Places (2013). She holds an MS in Public Policy and a BS in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Utah State University. Additionally, she serves on the Temple Fork Outfitters Board. Laura has studied private conservation efforts across the globe and is thrilled to be part of one of the world’s largest conservation ventures—right here in Montana!   

GARY BAY

Gary runs national sales for Wild Sky, and serves as a main contact for customers and vendors. Gary brings a lifetime of experience in the meat business to the office. He started out cutting beef in Missoula, Montana, and soon leapt into a career with John R. Daily's, where he gained experience in cutting and sausage making. He transitioned into retail with K&C Meats, where he became a journeyman meat cutter. Between owning his own shop and working for local retail meat markets, Gary honed his craft, rounding out his meat career as supervisor of IBP. After going on to design commercial kitchens for restaurants and institutions, he returned to Montana to work in sales. Gary is passionate about being part of an organization that promotes healthy, natural beef.

BRETT BOECKEL

As Chief Operating Officer, Brett brings a unique entrepreneurial background to the Wild Sky team with over 10 years of experience in Finance and Business Operations. After working for Black Diamond Capital in Denver, his passion for the outdoors led him to Jackson, Wyoming where he helped develop Blank Slate, a rock climbing product that was awarded "Gear of the Year" by Climbing Magazine. Since moving to Bozeman, Brett has worked for a food distribution company carrying local Montana food products, a non-profit investment fund focusing on investment opportunities within southwest Montana, and provides financial consultation for a local beer company, which gives a portion of their profits back to Montana non-profit organizations. He holds a BA in Economics from the University of Colorado. Brett is passionate about the potential for business to support and advance conservation while providing economic benefits to rural communities.  

JANNA LONG

Janna handles accounting and logistics for Wild Sky and has been with the company since its inception. She has a combination of education and experience working in the meat business during college at Bear Paw, a farm, finishing, and meat processing organization in Chinook, Montana. Upon moving to Bozeman, she assisted in operations at a local equine center while finishing up her BS in Business Administration and Accounting from Montana State University. Janna focuses on providing overall support to the team, to ensure successful operational execution. In addition to her involvement with Wild Sky, Janna oversees a 2100 acre ranch restoration project outside of Bozeman with her husband where they are currently focused on ecological revitalization of the riparian areas to improve habitat for plants and animals.

 CHRISTINA GAURON

Christina is the Coordinator of Economic Initiatives for American Prairie Reserve, working closely with the Wild Sky Team. Her focus is on the success of the Wild Sky brand, products and ranching partners; as well as working with corporate partners to create mutually beneficial collaborations. Following Christina's graduation from Wheaton College, she discovered her drive came from supporting causes that inspire her. She has worked to support missions that included The Food Project, The Irish Immigration Center and the Boettcher Foundation. Her professional life has moved her from Boston to the U.S. Virgin Islands, to Denver, and finally, Bozeman in 2015 when she joined the organization. Christina is motivated by the people she works with and the inspiring cause both Wild Sky and American Prairie Reserve are advancing!

IAN DAMON

Ian focuses on inside sales for Wild Sky and brings a sales and customer service focused background to the team. A recent graduate from Montana State University's business program, Ian was previously the sales manager for a local hotel and convention center here in Bozeman. As a 5th generation Montanan, he grew up in the beautiful Flathead Valley taking full advantage of the outdoor opportunities the area has to offer. During his summers away from the university, he managed a boat dock in majestic Glacier National Park. His time in the park instilled a passion for preserving the wildlife and the great outdoors he calls home. Ian is excited to provide healthy, quality grass-fed beef products to customers and supporting large conservation efforts in Montana.

 KYRAN KUNKEL

Dr. Kyran Kunkel, American Prairie Reserve’s Lead Scientist, is a familiar face for visitors and science partners. After more than a decade of involvement in the building of the Reserve and the region’s wildlife populations, Kyran officially joined APR in 2014. His role involves working with Wild Sky ranchers and a wide range of collaborators to restore the natural abundance of the Northern Great Plains--creating the largest wildlife restoration project in U.S. history. This includes restoring APR lands according to the Freese Scale for Grassland Biodiversity, which he co-created with Dr. Curt Freese and Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf, and directing an innovative program of research, conservation, and citizen science activity. 

DAMIEN AUSTIN

Damien resides on American Prairie Reserve with his family and serves as Reserve Manager and lead liaison for bison management. He also works closely with Laura Huggins and Kyran Kunkel overseeing Wild Sky's wildlife-friendly ranching program. Prior to joining APR in 2010, Damien worked as the Living Collection Keeper at Zoo Montana in Billings, Montana, and as Research Director at Floating Island International, a company specializing in water reclamation. Originally from Billings, Damien grew up with a backyard of sagebrush and grass. Today, he feels right at home living in a similar prairie ecosystem.