Deb Ryun, Executive Director

Deb Ryun, has been the Executive Director of SCRA since October 2009. She has 25 years of experience with management and coordination of multi-stakeholder initiatives; watershed-level planning; and implementation of on-the-ground projects to protect land and water. Deb provides overall leadership for and management of the SCRA. She is the public face of the Association and represents the organization before various audiences. During the open water season, Deb spends much of her free time enjoying all that the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers offer. Email:

Nicole Biagi, Outdoor Educator

Nicole grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and Hudson, Wisconsin, spending the majority of her summers swimming, kayaking, and occasionally camping on the St. Croix River. She then went to the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities for her B.S. in Fisheries Wildlife and Conservation Biology. Before accepting this position with the St. Croix River Association, Nicole worked in many different seasonal positions as a biological science technician and as an environmental educator. Along the way, Nicole found her passion for youth education and hopes that as the new Outdoor Educator for the SCRA, she can help reach new audiences and expand on the incredible partnerships that have already been made throughout the watershed. Email:

Bethany Cox, Director of Development

Bethany Cox is the Director of Development at the St. Croix River Association. She has been with the St. Croix River association since September of 2019, and brings with her years of entrepreneurial and nonprofit experience. Bethany is looking to creatively engage more of the community to not only support the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers but also to bring more individuals and families to the rivers to experience the natural beauty this National Park provides. Bethany grew up experiencing the lakes and rivers in Wisconsin from a canoe and is looking forward to exploring the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers with her own family. Email:

Nikki Henger, Forestry Program Coordinator

Nikki grew up in Ohio and went to the University of Dayton for her B.S. in Environmental Biology.  She continued her education in NY and enrolled in a dual degree program with State University of New York-Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University. There she obtained an M.S. in Forestry and Natural Resources Management and an MPA and also completed a thesis on Emerald Ash Borer state management plans. During her free time, she enjoys backpacking, canoeing and exploring new areas. Email:

Sophia Patane, Communications Coordinator

Sophia graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2019, as well as a B.F.A. in Creative Writing and a B.A. in Psychology in 2016. Prior to joining SCRA in March 2020, she served as the Assistant Managing Editor and Communications Assistant for the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University and completed an internship at Graywolf Press. Sophia is responsible for developing the communications and social media strategy for the St. Croix River Association, including managing the production of print materials and electronic communications. She grew up on the shores of a lake in northwest Iowa and hopes to magnify the myriad voices and stories that make the St. Croix River and its watershed a vital place to protect for future generations. Email:

Katie Sickmann, Invasive Species Coordinator

Katie Sickmann recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls with a B.S. in Biology and Field Biology. Prior to accepting the Invasive Species Program Coordinator position with SCRA she worked with the Prior Lake- Spring Lake Watershed District. There she gained experience with water quality monitoring, invasive species management, education and outreach, and maintaining BMPs and restoration sites. Katie has spent many summers at her family’s cabin just outside of Spooner, WI and loves to kayak the Namekagon whenever she can get the chance. She works closely with government agencies and other stakeholders such as outfitters, marinas and bait shops, and those engaged in preventing and controlling the spread of invasive species. Email:

Jeremiah Walters, Naturalist

Jeremiah graduated from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls in the spring of 2020 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Conservation. Jeremiah interned with SCRA for two summers before coming on full-time. While attending the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, Jeremiah was involved in many aspects within the St. Croix River watershed, similarly Jeremiah will be involved in many aspects of the multiple programs SCRA has to offer. Jeremiah is eager to learn more about the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and inspire others to explore this wild and scenic river. Email:

Kate Wright, Donor Engagement and Events

Kate grew up on the St. Croix River and enjoys our watershed year round by skiing, paddling, and hiking with her dogs. She studied Business Law and Environmental Studies at the University of St. Thomas, earning her B.A. Kate joined the SCRA team in March of 2017 focusing on donor relations and database management. Since then, her duties have expanded to include our in-house marketing and visual design, event management and supervising SCRA’s first AmeriCorps VISTA position. Kate serves on the Board of Directors for the Deer Lake Improvement Association focusing her efforts on the environmental committee with AIS strategic planning and the Clean Boats Clean Water program. Email:

Monica Zachay, Director of Programs

Monica Zachay is the Director of Programs at the St. Croix River Association. She began her work at SCRA in 2012, working to develop and grow SCRA’s Land and Water Program, which strives to protect and restore the unique ecological resources within the St. Croix River watershed. More recently, Monica has taken on the addition of overseeing SCRA’s River Connections education and outreach program, including K-12 education and outdoor programming. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources with emphases in forestry and environmental education from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Email: