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Vetter picked to follow Duluth native Howard Vincent as CEO of Pheasants Forever

The North Dakota native and trainer of German shorthaired pointers will lead the national habitat group.

A woman in an orange hoodie carrying a shotgun stands in a field next to three dead pheasants and a German shorthaired pointer.
Marilyn Vetter of New Richmond, Wisconsin, was named Monday as the new president of Pheasants Forever.
Contributed / Pheasants Forever

ST. PAUL — A North Dakota native and kennel owner is the new president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, the conservation group announced Monday.

Marilyn Vetter, 55, will replace longtime president and CEO Howard Vincent upon his retirement. Vincent, a Duluth native and University of Minnesota Duluth graduate, announced his retirement last year.

Vetter is from Anamoose, North Dakota, and has served as a member of the organization’s national board of directors since 2015, most recently as vice chair.

She brings 25 years of strategic leadership, business management and volunteer experience to the position, according to Pheasants Forever.

Howard Vincent hunts pheasants in Pine County in December 2019.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

“Marilyn rose to the top following a comprehensive nationwide search that attracted interest from an impressive and diverse slate of candidates,” Matt Kucharski, chairman of Pheasant Forever’s board of directors, said in a statement. “She brings a unique set of skills, experiences and vision and has a firm grasp of the organization’s strengths and future opportunities. Her history as a dedicated volunteer, a lifelong bird dog lover and a wingshooter who is passionate about our habitat mission and long-term success will resonate with members, donors, conservation partners and staff in pheasant and quail country.”


Vetter’s professional background has been focused on strategic management, government affairs, marketing and communications. She holds a communications degree from the University of North Dakota and has served in leadership positions at Horizon Therapeutics, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Organon Inc.

Vetter was born and raised in a hunting and farming family. Her professional career brought her to the Chicago area for three years. She now lives just east of the Twin Cities in New Richmond, Wisconsin, where she and her husband, Clyde, own and operate Sharp Shooter’s Kennel with German shorthaired pointers.

In addition to serving on the National Board of Directors for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Vetter served on the executive council of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association for more than two decades and the board of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

“Working alongside the stellar employees, dedicated volunteers and chapter members, and committed partners and sponsors is an honor few leaders get to experience,” Vetter said in a statement. “Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are extraordinarily healthy organizations with a strong established vision. I’m eager to continue the critical work of the organization and am thrilled to be part of its dynamic future.”

Vetter becomes the third CEO during the organization’s 40-year history. Jeff Finden served in that role from the organization’s formation in 1982 until Vincent succeeded him in 2000. During Vincent’s tenure, Pheasants Forever has grown into one of the most respected wildlife conservation organizations in the country dedicated to habitat development, education and advocacy. The organization has more than 425 employees and 400,000 members, supporters and partners and a $100 million annual budget. In its history the group has been responsible for preserving or developing more than 24 million acres of wildlife habitat.

“Our volunteers, members, partners and employees will find her to be a passionate conservationist, collaborative leader and dynamic personality,” Vincent said of Vetter. “I have tremendous confidence that our mission is in capable hands.”

Vetter, who will join Feb. 1, will participate as the incoming CEO at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2023 , set for Feb. 17-19 in Minneapolis.

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John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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