Our Staff

Carol Abrahamzon

Executive Director
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Carol Abrahamzon is the Executive Director at Mississippi Valley Conservancy. She has over 20 years of experience with non-profit management and donor relationship cultivation.  She and her husband Bill, own a sustainable farm in southeast Minnesota where they grow beef, pork, chicken, and most of their own fruits and vegetables. They employ conservation practices on their farm including wildlife enhancement projects, invasive species removal, and a forest stand improvement program. In her free time Carol enjoys running in nature, competing in triathlons, gardening, nature photography, and spending time with her family including her five grandchildren.

Abbie Church

Conservation Director
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Abbie brings a diverse background in natural resources, having worked in the state, federal, private and non-profit sectors. Abbie began her career working at the Wright County Conservation Board’s Lake Cornelia Park near Clarion, Iowa. She soon realized her passion lies in working with private landowners to conserve declining species in working with The Nature Conservancy in Iowa and Minnesota. Her background also includes national non-profit, The Conservation Fund, as well as a role as Mississippi Valley Conservancy's conservation specialist from 2007 until 2012. She earned a degree in biology from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.

Abbie’s experience in land management, land and conservation easement negotiations, grant writing, species inventories and land use planning is valuable to the Conservancy. 

Abbie lives near Stoddard and enjoys canoeing, camping, gardening and especially hiking with her dogs Oscar and Hazelnut.

Chris Kirkpatrick

Conservation Specialist
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Chris Kirkpatrick comes to the Conservancy with 20 years of experience in the land trust industry. He has spent most of his life growing up in the Driftless area, calling Galena, IL his hometown. Chris attended the University of Dubuque, IA and received a B.S. in Environmental Science and Biology. He then worked for the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, a land trust in northwest Illinois, to permanently protect areas in the same community he grew up in as a kid.

Prior to working for Mississippi Valley Conservancy, he served as the Executive Director for The Prairie Enthusiasts. Chris brings years of experience working with private landowners to help permanently protect their land, and offering technical assistance on ecological restoration & land management advice.

In his free time you can finding him hiking state natural areas, fishing, or camping. Chris is also a singer and song writer and plays guitar, mandolin and drums.

Krysten Zummo

Conservation Associate
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Krysten is a wildlife biologist with a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cobleskill and her M.S. in Wildlife Science from New Mexico State University. Krysten has worked all across the country, from New York to Oregon, researching how different management practices affect local wildlife populations. She comes to the Conservancy after working as a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist with Pheasants Forever in Northeastern Colorado, where she worked daily with landowners to create and maintain high quality habitat. Krysten brings her 10 years of experience to the Conservancy’s Land Protection Team, which is dedicated to permanent land protection, habitat restoration, and public outreach.

In her free time, Krysten enjoys volunteering with The Wildlife Society, reading, and knitting, and can be found hiking, kayaking, and birding with her sidekick pup Ellie.

Connor Kotte

Stewardship Coordinator
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Connor is a life-long learner of conservation, stewardship and restoration from Oak Park, Illinois. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Conservation Biology, Environmental Studies (BS) and Environmental Conservation (MS). 

Prior to joining the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, Connor developed his skillsets through fieldwork in multiple roles and organization types. The Chicago Botanic Garden’s CLM Internship took him to western Nevada to conduct native seed collections in the Great Basin Desert for the Bureau of Land Management. The Huron Pines AmeriCorps program placed him with the Leelanau Conservancy in northern Michigan, where he learned stewardship strategies and easement monitoring in a land trust setting. The Lakeshore Nature Preserve offered Connor a wonderful opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to the management of UW-Madison campus natural spaces while completing his professional master’s program.

His interests in land protection intersect with a desire to achieve long-term conservation outcomes through stewardship and restoration. Connor believes that the work the Conservancy does to protect land through conservation easement plays a vital role in the health and well-being of our community. 

In his free time, you can find Connor exploring natural areas, birding for lifers, traveling with family, getting some cardio, or watching a sports game.

Levi Plath

Land Management
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Levi is an avid outdoorsman and a wildlife biologist with experience managing an array of different habitat types. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in ecology and field biology with wildlife emphasis from St. Cloud (Minnesota) State University. Levi comes to Mississippi Valley Conservancy with a variety of experiences. He previously worked with the Minnesota DNR, Iowa DNR, Iowa State University and the Minnesota Conservation Corps. He worked as an authorized Mojave Desert tortoise biologist in Southern Nevada and has an array of volunteer experiences in the field of natural resources and biological research. Levi manages The Conservancy's lands to retain high quality habitat for wildlife and educating the public about effective land stewardship.

In his free time, you can find Levi out fishing on the river, out west backpacking, or hiking the local state natural areas.

Nancy Larson

Finance and Operations Manager
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Nancy began her management career by working her way up through the Fortune 500 Company, G. Heileman Brewing. She has over 30 years of success in management, administration, accounting and organizational skills and puts those skills to work for the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. 

Nancy, her husband Randy, live in Chaseburg. Nancy likes to volunteer in her local community. She currently volunteers as treasurer and council member in her church.

In her free time, Nancy enjoys music, camping, boating, walking and sporting activities.

Sarah Bratnober

Communication Director
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Sarah brings extensive communications skills to her role at the Conservancy. During her eight-year tenure as Organic Valley’s Director of Marketing Communications, she promoted the land/water stewardship role of family farms across the country. Sarah has also offered her services as an independent content strategist and creative director to help socially responsible businesses to build their brands. She served four years on Valley Stewardship Network’s board of directors, where she crafted communications about conservation challenges and solutions in southwest Wisconsin. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, her years of land ownership, trail maintenance, and silent sports recreation have endowed Sarah with much respect for our fragile environment and all the creatures who depend on it. She enjoys kayaking on the Mississippi River and many of its tributaries. 

Leanne Kruse

Development Coordinator
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Leanne is passionate about wildlife conservation, environmental justice, sustainability, and empowering people to get outside. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Conservation Biology from the University of Western Australia and brings to Mississippi Valley Conservancy a variety of experiences in the environmental and animal welfare world. Leanne is very familiar with the Conservancy, having volunteered her services when life allowed since 2014.

Leanne and her husband, Mark, spend every opportunity they can getting their son outside and sharing their love of the outdoors with him. She also loves gluten-free baking, fly fishing, and relaxing with a good book.