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Ohio Wildlife Council

The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. Appointed by the Governor, no more than four members may be of the same political party and two of the council members must represent agriculture. Each term of office is four years.

Meet the Council

Mike Rex (Chairman)

Mike RexMike Rex is a life long Ohioan. After graduating from Ohio University in the 1980’s, he and his wife, Shelly, have made their home in rural Athens County where they raised 3 sons who share his enthusiasm for the outdoors.

Mike began fishing and hunting at a young age growing up in Northeast Ohio. His passion for these endeavors and desire to share the experience have prompted him to author several articles in both regional and national outdoor publications. He is a veteran seminar speaker, specializing in the topics of deer, turkey, and coyote hunting. Mike hopes to infuse his experience in the field to issues brought before the Wildlife Council.

Mike has been active with several conservation organizations, including the National Wild Turkey Federation and Ohio’s largest conservation group, the Buckeye Big Buck Club. A 30 year member/officer of the BBBC, he is past President, Hall of Fame Member and current Secretary/Treasurer of the club.

In addition to hunting and fishing, Mike enjoys various outdoor recreations including boating, hiking, and trail riding.

Dave Zenk

Dave ZenkDave Zenk is Executive Director of Metroparks Toledo, the 2020 Gold Medal recipient for best large park system in America. He is a dynamic and accomplished professional with over 15 years of demonstrated performance in the park field and years of experience in the private sector as a business owner. He is a skillful project manager who is passionate about leadership, quality service delivery and developing strategies that are powerful enough to change a region.

At Metroparks Toledo, he is directly responsible for over $100 million in total assets, 200 employees and a $60 million annual budget. He oversaw the development of the agency’s current comprehensive plan and completed a goal to place a Metropark within five miles of every residence in Lucas County. He was responsible for securing more than $70 million of grant dollars, which has allowed Metroparks to expand its reach across the county and doubled visitation to more than 7 million visits per year.

Under his supervision as deputy director then executive director, Metroparks grew from 9 to 19 parks, adding the first new Metropark in four decades. In that time, the park system has introduced new programs, including outdoor skills instruction, kayak launches, a rock climbing area, tree climbing, a single-track trail for mountain bikes, and most recently, the country’s first public tree house village. This growth has been acknowledged with over 60 state and national awards, making Metroparks the fastest growing and most recognized park agency in the country.

Glass City Riverwalk, a $200 million reimagining of the Toledo riverfront, is now underway, along with planned upgrades to parks and trails across the county.

Dave holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree specializing in organizational development from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University. He is a recent 20 under 40 awardee, serves on the Ohio Wildlife Council, Mercy Health Board of Directors, is a founding member of the Toledo Regional Equity and Inclusion Council and serves on numerous other community boards and committees.

In his personal life, Dave enjoys spending time in the western basin of Lake Erie chasing walleye and perch. Additional hobbies include camping, kayaking, and hunting with family and friends across the state’s rich natural areas.

Jim Samuel

Jim SamuelJim is principal of Capitol Integrity Group, Ltd, a private government affairs and economic development consultancy that has served a range of clients, from Fortune 200 corporations to small rural communities. Jim has thirty years’ experience in cultivating, improving and strengthening policy and economic development relationships in both the public and private sectors. Over the course of his career, Jim has successfully developed and driven public policy and legislative initiatives in the area of energy, natural resources, economic development, infrastructure, manufacturing, workers' compensation and taxation.

Jim was born in Cleveland, grew up fishing on the shore of Lake Erie and has dedicated a good portion of his life to conservation and and natural resource issues. Professionally, he serves as executive director of the Ohio Water Partnership, a broad-based coalition of business interests advocating for good water policy in Ohio. As a volunteer, he has served on a number of public and private sector boards and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Jim is an avid waterfowl hunter and sporting clay shooter. He greatly enjoys introducing new individuals, especially young people, to the shooting sports and hunting.

Jim previously served in the public sector in executive positions under two Ohio governors, including service as the Governor’s executive assistant for business & industry, the administration’s liaison to Ohio’s business community. Jim was a key broker of private business and legislative support for tort reform, workers’ compensation reform and the most sweeping tax reform in Ohio’s history. Jim has been engaged in every major energy policy issue in Ohio dating back to the beginnings of deregulation and the Northeast blackout of August 2003 when he served as the governor’s advisor on energy, business and economic development matters.

Jim and his wife, Heidi have two young adult children and split their time between Columbus and Lynx, Ohio.

Tom Vorisek

Tom VorisekTom Vorisek has lived in Ohio most of his life. He grew up in Northern Ohio, spending almost every waking hour outdoors as a youth.  Part of this outdoor activity included helping out on the family farm nearby. Tom enrolled in Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, and received a degree in Forestry. Upon graduation, he lived and worked in Alaska. Upon returning to the Buckeye state, he finished his college studies at Ohio University, graduating with a degree in Business Management.  

Vorisek has been involved in wildlife issues since a young person. This started in 1977 when he was involved locally in raising money to defend trapper's rights and defeat a statewide voter initiative to ban trapping in the state. Once out of college, Tom got involved in numerous conservation groups, including Ducks Unlimited, NWTF, Safari Club, and others. In 1997-1998, Vorisek was in a leadership role working with Ohioans for Wildlife Conservation to raise funds and educate the public on the statewide ballot issue to outlaw mourning dove hunting.  For the work invested on this issue and other efforts, Tom received the "Ohio Conservationist of the Year" from the League of Ohio Sportsmen for the year of 2000. Vorisek was appointed to the Ohio Wildlife Council in 2014 and completed that term in 2018.  

Tom and his wife Linda reside in Gahanna, and operate a 300-acre tree farm in Licking county which occupies a great deal of time and effort. The farm is operated with a focus on conservation principles to benefit game and non-game species.

Tom is married to Linda, whom together they have 3 adult daughters and one granddaughter, all of whom reside in Central Ohio.

Larry B. Mixon Sr., Ph.D.

Larry B. Mixon Sr., Ph.DLarry B. Mixon Sr., Ph.D. (Columbus) served as superintendent for Columbus Public Schools from 1992-1997. He is a U.S. Army Veteran. He is an avid outdoorsman and marksman, enjoying rabbit and wild turkey hunting, bowhunting white-tailed deer, fishing for bass, walleye and King salmon, and benchrest shooting. “The spirit of nature and wildlife conservation has always been an important part of my life; and as a member of the Ohio Wildlife Council, I am committed to conserving these priceless resources for future generations to enjoy.”

Paul P. Mechling II, DVM (Vice Chair)

Paul P. Mechling II, DVMPaul P. Mechling, DVM has been a Buckeye all his life. Mechling graduated from Lancaster High School and attended The Ohio State University receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. He was active in 4-H and FFA participating at local, state and national levels. Mechling co-owned 2 veterinary practices in northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania serving over 15,000 clients. He retired from practice in 2013 so he could spend more time doing conservation projects. He and his family operate the 410-acre Snowy Oak Tree Farm in Pierpont Township, Ashtabula County where they have planted more than 150,000 trees, created wetlands, planted pollinator habitat, warm season grasses and wildlife food plots. NRCS programs such as EQIP, CSP, WRP and CRP are utilized for these projects. He produced award winning maple syrup from over 3,000 taps for over 25 years. Mechling co-manages the Wal-Mec Farms with his brother in Hopewell Township, Perry County producing grain and timber. Mechling’s parents and grandparents were farmers and conservationists instilling his land ethic. He enjoys upland bird hunting with dogs, deer hunting and especially Spring gobbler season while also participating in the Christmas bird count.

Mechling has been active in many conservation organizations. He was chairman of the Ohio Chapter of NWTF receiving two national awards, Roger Latham Sportsman award and National Hunting Heritage award as the national private landowner conservationist in 2008. Mechling is entering his 9th term on the Ashtabula Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors. He was an inaugural member of the Ashtabula Scenic River Board. Mechling also chaired the Ohio Tree Farm Committee and is still an active member. Other conservation awards include: 2016 Ohio Forest of Honor, 2018 Ohio Conservation Farm Family, 2019 Ohio Tree Farm of the Year, and ODNR’s 2020 Cardinal Award. Not only does Mechling serve on the Ohio Wildlife Council but also the Governor’s Forestry Advisory Council representing large private landowners.

Mechling’s focus on Wildlife Council includes managing wildlife populations, land acquisition, understanding the impact of wildlife diseases, and practicing Aldo Leopold’s land ethic that “when man and nature are in harmony, we have conservation”.

Mechling’s have two children, Sarah and Noah, and four grandchildren who actively participate in conservation projects. Joanne and Paul are active members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Conneaut.

Karen Stewart-Linkhart (Secretary)

Karen Stewart-LinkhartKaren Stewart-Linkhart is one of the two Council members engaged in agriculture, as required by the Ohio Revised Code. She and her husband, Dave Linkhart, operate a full-time, family farm in southwest Ohio. Since its beginning in 1980 they have established many conservation practices that affect wildlife habitat and water quality: adopted no-till practices on almost 100% of their farmed ground to minimize run-off of soil or fertilizer; restored a wetland in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service; planted 21 acres of native Ohio prairie grass to benefit ground-nesting birds; and their farm was a release site for the wild turkey re-introduction program in 1996. In August 2014, Karen and Dave were inducted into the Greene County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Karen enjoys fishing, deer hunting and is very dedicated to trapping. She runs her own trap line for coyotes as well as partnering with her husband for other furbearers. She is a life member, Board member and in the Hall of Fame (with Dave) of the Ohio State Trappers Association. With the National Trappers Association, she is also a life member plus she and Dave share the responsibilities as Directors of National and International Affairs.

She has had active roles in Farm Bureau, the Cooperative Extension Service and was a 4-H leader for over 25 years while their two daughters were growing up. They have added two son-in-laws and four grandchildren to their family over the years. It is fun to enjoy trapping, fishing and hunting with all of them as well as sharing experiences while camping, canoeing and hiking/backpacking together.

George R. Klein

George R. KleinGeorge R. Klein (Akron) is the owner of the Hill‘n Dale Club, a 700-member fishing, hunting and shooting club near Medina, which he has led for more than 30 years. Concurrently, he served as president and owner of several news distribution companies. He earned advanced degrees from Colorado College, Denver University and Harvard University.

Land conservation is one of Klein’s priorities. As a board member of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, he serves on the Natural Areas Committee, which aids in overseeing 38 preserves in northeast Ohio. He was also a board member of the Trust for Public Land which was integral in converting the former Richfield Coliseum to a meadow that was gifted to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

As the past chairman of the Winous Point Marsh Conservancy, Klein encourages research projects and internship partnerships with colleges and universities. He has also been active with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association, the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center and the Cuyahoga Countryside Conservancy.

In addition to his service on numerous conservation-minded committees, Klein is an avid steelhead trout fisherman and enjoys duck and woodcock hunting in Ohio and abroad.