Meet Our Team
Our team at Harpole's Heartland Lodge is more like a family than co-workers. Everyone at Heartland enjoys working together and many are good friends outside of work. Our guests are also part of our extended Heartland family. The traditions you create at Heartland are a part of what makes us enjoy what we do so much!
Gary Harpole - President & Owner
Gary is the owner of Heartland Lodge and is the one who had the vision to build the lodge and resort. Gary grew up in Quincy Illinois and often visited his grandparent’s farm that is adjacent to Heartland Lodge and is where he now resides.
He attended Quincy Public Schools and graduated from Quincy Senior High School. He then attended and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from Westminster College in Fulton Missouri. Shortly after college graduation, Gary began making his dream a reality by starting Heartland Lodge.
Gary says, “It was my dream to carry on the strong traditions that started back when I was a child, visiting my grandparents. Each year new traditions are being created by our guests. It’s my hope that you create your own memories at Heartland with your family or friends and carry on a tradition that started many years ago.”
Gary is single and when he is not at the lodge he enjoys working out, racing in triathlons, traveling, hunting, fishing, anything outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.
Wanda Harpole - Lodge Manager & Wedding Planner
I am fortunate to have been born and raised by a loving Christian family on the farm adjacent to the lodge where my son Gary, the owner, currently lives. At an early age I was taught the importance of honesty, trust and the value of a good day's work. I attended a small country church not far from home where, on many occasions, we would walk to services. I am the fifth out of six children in my family. I attended a one room country school for a few years and graduated from Pittsfield High School. My college degree is in accounting.
I am the co-founder of an accounting business where I worked and also managed for 33 years. In 1995 I helped plan and build Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Here I manage and oversee the day to day operations of the guests, food, accommodations, and activities.
I have two children. Gary, who owns the resort, and my daughter Stephanie. Stephanie is married to Drew, and they are the parents of my four beautiful grandsons Adlai, Ashytn, Aubrey, and Alden
I enjoy attending church, spending time with my family and power shopping. I love to entertain and strive daily to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
Supervising both lodges has been a wonderful journey and a very rewarding experience. I thank God for giving me this privilege.
Terry Abney - Wing-Shooting Manager
I guess you could call me native to this area because I grew up within a fifty mile radius of here. I am married to Karla and we have 3 children Zach (16), Taylor (14), and Hunter (11). At times you may even see one or more of them helping around the lodge.
I graduated from Monroe City High School in Monroe City, Mo. and have acquired a Machine Trades Degree. I grew up hunting, fishing and trapping.
In the early 1990's, I started out guiding deer and turkey then started raising upland birds, turkeys, and ducks for the pure enjoyment of it. Then in 1998 I began raising upland birds to sell to hunting preserves and started my career guiding upland hunts.
Prior coming to Heartland Lodge in July 2007, I managed hunts at two other wing shooting facilities. Here at Heartland I am in charge of upland and duck hunts, sporting clays, and I help guide turkey and deer hunters as needed.
MatthewBrunet - Whitetail & Turkey Manager
I love chasing monster whitetails and calling in spring gobblers. Putting our hunters on the whitetail of their dreams or seeing them shoot their first gobbler is something I will never get tired of seeing. I enjoy meeting and getting to know all of the hunters that stay with us.
I am originally from upstate New York and was born and raised in Lisbon, NY. I graduated from Lisbon High School in 2002 and from 2002 to 2007 I did construction while going to college. I received a degree in general English and science, as well as becoming certified in heating and plumbing. I am certified in air conditioning and refrigeration with a Ward flex certification as well. I spent the fall of 2006 in Colorado going to Coags, an outdoor guide school. I moved to Pike County, Illinois and started working for Heartland Lodge in 2007.
I started whitetail guiding for Heartland in 2007 and in the spring of 2008 became the assistant Whitetail and Turkey manager. In the spring of 2011 I became the Whitetail and Turkey manager. I have been chasing whitetails and turkey for as long as I can remember. I am happy and proud to call Pike County and Heartland Lodge home.
Marcella House - Reservations & Conference Planner
I can say that I feel very fortunate to experience the beauty that surrounds this rural area. I have lived in both Pike County Missouri and Pike County Illinois most of my life except for 3 years that I was in the military. Most of my childhood was spent on a farm outside Louisiana Missouri and I also graduated from Louisiana High school. I grew up on the farm with 2 brothers and 4 sisters, so we all had first hand experience with the meaning of hard work. I give credit to my up-bringing for my work ethics today.
We spent most of our summers on the river, fishing, swimming and camping. I remember tagging along on several squirrel and raccoon hunting adventures with my brothers, dad and uncle. Since then I have even been exposed to Duck hunting and harvested two deer myself. However hunting doesn’t get to be a part of my everyday life now, well except at work. I am a proud mother of 3 amazing young adults; Zach who recently joined the military, Justin who is a senior and Katie who is a freshman. Between the three of them I stay on the go.
I have been lucky enough to work in two different spectrums at Heartland Lodge. I started in the kitchen where I had the opportunity to put to use some of my up-bringing , which was home-cooked meals made from scratch. Now I am in the office where I spend my time answering emails, taking reservations and many other administrative duties that it takes to help Heartland Lodge be what it is today. Once in a while I still throw on an apron and give a hand in the kitchen.
We have a wonderful team of people here at Heartland Lodge and we all enjoy being able to be a part of the special memories that our guests take from here.
Deana Niederholtmeyer - Reservations & Conference Planner
I was raised in Washington, Missouri where I graduated from St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. I moved to Illinois in 2000. In 2009, my fiancé and I decided to move to Pike County where he was raised. We also wanted to be closer to his grandfather. We have a daughter, Miranda who is 21 and resides in Washington, Missouri with our grandson, Ryker who is five months. Our son Tanner is 14 and will be a freshman this year at Pittsfield High School. Tanner is our hunter and sports enthusiast.
We enjoy boating, fishing and anything to do with the outdoors. Heartland Lodge has made us all feel like family and that is important to me. I have met a lot of good people at the Lodge. If you haven’t experienced Heartland Lodge, I suggest that now is the time.
Allen Ballinger - Assistant Whitetail & Turkey Manager
A native of Northeast Alabama, I grew up hunting and fishing in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. My passion for hunting whitetails led me here to the “Land of the Giants” Pike County, Illinois. After a summer internship, I knew that Heartland Lodge was the place I wanted to start my professional career. I have been with Heartland Lodge as the Assistant Whitetail and Turkey manager for two years.
I graduated from Chattooga High School in Summerville, Ga in 2006. Shortly before graduation I met my fiancée, Brooke. I am a graduate of the University of Georgia, GO DAWGS!!! I have a Bachelors degree in the field of recreation and leisure studies. Brooke and I will be getting married in May of this year.
Here at Heartland my primary job is selling, scouting, and guiding for deer and turkey hunts, however, in the off season I can frequently be found mowing the lawn, riding horses, and pulling for sporting clays.
I was born and raised in Pike County Illinois. I went to Pittsfield High School and married Roger McKinnon after graduating. We have two boys, Jeff & Greg and four grandchildren.
I started working at Heartland Lodge in 1999 and enjoy taking care of the in-house accounting. I also help with reservations and enjoy talking to the people I meet on the telephone.
When I am not at the lodge, I work in our family farming operation. We farm row crops along with raising cattle. I like spending time outdoors and with family.
Mike Jacobs - Maintenance & Hayride Specialist
I grew up on the Illinois River in Pike County, where my family owned and operated a marina, restaurant, motel and campground for 30 years.
I am married to my wife Audrey and we have three children, Michelle, Kenny and Joey along with one grandson, Brady who is three. Michelle has a career in education, Kenny is in railroading and Joey is headed to the marine corp.
The reason I came to work for Heartland was because I missed the interaction with people in the hospitality and recreation business. The reasons I still work here are many. The people I work for are like family. The people I work with are very hard working, conscientious, and honest; three unbeatable traits. This group is great to work with, and for, just like one big family.
When you stay with us and an owner or employee asks “Are you enjoying your stay?” or “Is there something you need?” we mean it. Your happiness makes our jobs that much more enjoyable.
We have some terrific scenery and awesome activities. I hope you can make it to Heartland soon and enjoy them with us.
Roger Keller - Upland Guide & St Louis Customer Relations
Terry's right hand man is a retired (if you want to call him retired) gentleman who has made his way back and forth from St. Louis guiding for the lodge since January 2008. He and his wife Cheryll have 3 children, one girl and twin boys.
Roger is a St. Louis native who graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO with a degree in Zoology and Chemistry. He worked for Sigma-Aldrich Chemical Corp. from 1966-2007 where he served in various departments. He was the director of Quality Control and Technical service, Department Head of Publications, Department Head of a Radio Chemical Group, Bulk Chemical Sales for Asia Pacific, India, and Israel, Bulk Chemical Sales to Clinical Diagnostics Companies like Becton-Dickinson, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Dade Behring and others. As the Department Head of Publications he published a 2 volume set, 3,000 page book titled The Sigma Library of FT-IR Spectra, along with several books with editors/authors from around the world on Lectin Chemistry. He also published Immunochemistry in the 21st Century in conjunction with the Rockefeller University.
Roger's hobbies include hunting and fishing. He also enjoys old muscle cars and car shows, good movies and good food.
Since retirement, Roger has guided Upland Hunts for Heartland Lodge. As a committed veteran bird hunter of fifty years he states that he really enjoys meeting new people, taking them out to the field and having a really great/safe hunting experience. He states, “I never get tired of seeing a dog locate and hold birds." He enjoys the action of the flush, shot and retrieve. “Every hunter that I have known is hunting not just for the bird harvest but the enjoyment of the whole experience!”
Brad Kelly - Upland Guide
Hi, my name is Brad Kelly.
For twenty years I worked in an explosives plant. I decided that I wanted a job that I could enjoy the outdoors. I took a job with an upland game farm and decided I would like to try guiding upland hunts as well. I invested in a few excellent dogs and took an opening for a guide position at Heartland Lodge.
I enjoy running three dogs while I am a guiding a hunt. I feel that watching the dogs work is half the fun. I also enjoy meeting new people and making new friendships. It’s a pleasure to guide many of the same hunters year after year.
I am an avid outdoorsman and enjoy fishing, turkey hunting, and deer hunting as well. I also enjoy taking youth on any type of hunt.
Adam Smith - Upland Guide
Adam has been guiding at Heartland Lodge since the fall of 2006. He is a Winchester, IL native who is married to Christine. Currently living in the Jerseyville, IL area he is a line crew supervisor for Nelson Tree Company. He guides for us as often as he can.
He gives his grandfather the credit for getting him interested in breeding and raising German Shorthaired Pointers and upland hunting. Adam often trains other people’s bird dogs and raises a few litters of puppies to sell each year.
He likes Bluegrass music and has been playing the banjo for 13 years. He has in-fact played in a couple different Bluegrass bands and often plays for our guests.
Adam also enjoys bow hunting for both whitetail deer and turkey.
Pete Brenneman - Upland Guide
Our dedicated bird dog specialist comes from Wellman, IA. Having 14 years of guiding experience makes Pete very knowledgeable in the field as well as with dogs and dog handling. As an Iowa native, he graduated from Hesston College; in Hesston, KS; with a major in agriculture.
Pete has been raising dogs for over fifteen years and is the owner/operator of Eleven Hills Kennels, a Premier Breeder of German Shorthaired Pointers in southeast IA. The Kennel is a 16 time recipient of the NAVHDA (North America Versatile Hunting Dog Association) Breeders award and Master AKC. He has been to the NAVHDA invitational two times and he has one dog in the Bird Dog Hall of Fame.
As a dog handler he loves to see what the dogs can do in the field as well as meet others that have the love for the upland hunting sport.
Corey Wilkinson - Pro Staff
I was born and raised in SW Illinois and grew up addicted to the outdoors. I started hunting the sparrows in my backyard with my BB gun and slowly the game I pursued got a little bigger. I began bowhunting whitetails in '91 and was chasing longbeards by '94 along with virtually any other animal that had a season. But all of my outdoor time was not spent just hunting or fishing. Habitat management and conservation were a part of everyday life in my house growing up. Controlled burns, tree plantings, native plants, bird watching, etc. are all interests that have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. This eventually helped to steer me in the direction of a career in the outdoors.
I came to Heartland in the summer of '99 as a whitetail guide and remained until the end of the season in 2004. Most of my years at Heartland Lodge were spent as the Whitetail and Turkey Manager, a job that provided me a great deal of satisfaction. The people I worked with became great friends and so did many of the clients that I came to know. Working at the lodge was one of the most gratifying jobs that I will ever have. The knowledge and experience that I gained from all of the guests over the years are invaluable and I truly see my experience here as a gift. After leaving Heartland my life took me down several paths. I managed some tremendous whitetail hunting property in Iowa and fell in love with the area. Although my wife and I ended up back in SW Illinois in 2006, Iowa called to me once again in 2008.
I currently reside in Southern Iowa with my beautiful wife Nicole and my amazing little daughter River. I am a Project Manager for JCG Land Services and provide Real Estate and Right of Way services to utility companies in the Midwest. In addition, I am a licensed real estate agent in Illinois and also provide consulting services for people looking to improve the habitat and/or the hunting on their own property. Although I no longer guide professionally I still try and find time to call in turkeys and help fine tune stand locations for others, and will continue to do so as long as I am physically able. The trophy whitetail bucks and hard gobbling turkeys still draw me to the woods every season and provide me with a challenge that I hope will never grow old.
I was honored when Gary asked me to write a hunting blog for his website in the fall of 2011. With the hope of sharing some knowledge that has contributed to my success and failures and providing some entertainment, I will continue to write Blogs for Heartland Lodge on a monthly basis. Feel free to give me feedback, I would love to hear from you!
See Corey's Whitetail and Turkey Hunting Blog
Kirk McKeown - Chicago Customer Relations
I am your hard core “Country Boy” stuck in “Big City” life, probably feeling the way many of you have. Born and raised in Chicagoland, I have spent most of my life looking for an escape to the great outdoors. I went to school for Management & Contracting and have become successful in launching numerous companies.
After school I married a high school classmate and have been blessed with 2 wonderful children. I spent many years working very hard building a career and family, yet always trying to fill that desire to be outdoors making more memories hunting and fishing. I have been fortunate enough to have spent my entire life fishing and hunting, but it was always a challenge growing up in a big city. When I became a father, I realized just how important it is to carve out time from the craziness of city life to focus on passing on the outdoor heritage to the next generation.
I started to get as much enjoyment out of teaching my children outdoor activities as I got out of doing them myself. I found myself with an overwhelming desire to introduce the great outdoors to anyone looking to experience it. I had already spent many years hunting in Illinois and Missouri, and knew that the famed Pike Co. IL was where I wanted to be. I was blessed with an opportunity to work with a Pike Co. based hunting company and was rewarded beyond my wildest expectations. I built some outstanding friendships during that time and was fortunate enough to experience Harpole’s Heartland Lodge.
After spending a lot of time at Heartland Lodge with Gary Harpole, I knew I wanted and needed to be part of his team. I now handle Customer Relations in Chicagoland and the surrounding area. My responsibility is to assist you, our valued customer, in planning and executing your perfect trip. My goal is to provide you with the personal touch and attention to detail that you deserve and won’t find anywhere else. I specialize in everything that Heartland Lodge has to offer. From hunting trips and family vacations, to corporate conventions and retreats, I will assist you through the entire process down to the last detail. See, all of us at Heartland Lodge consider ourselves one big family, and we would like you to become part of it. We don’t want to be just another voice on the phone or website on your computer, and that is why I am here, to personally assist you with your next visit to Heartland Lodge. I will sit down and meet with you to plan your next trip and handle all the details for you. So please feel free to email me or contact me directly at 815-212-6908 and let me help you plan that well deserved trip back outdoors.
Lori Biehl - Lodge Blogger & Photographer
It is a privilege to be considered part of the team and family at Heartland Lodge after spending my honeymoon and each anniversary since at the Lodge. I grew up in Central Illinois on a farm and graduated from Rushville High School in Rushville, Illinois. I graduated from Spoon River Community College in Canton, Illinois with an Associate’s of Applied Science degree with an emphasis in Criminal Justice.
After living in Springfield and Peoria for a few years, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri where I eventually met my husband, Dan who is a machinist. We were married in September of 1999 and spent our honeymoon at the lodge after finding the information on the brochure rack at Hardee’s in Pittsfield. We enjoyed our stay so much that we have been back each year for our anniversary.
Most of my career has been in a corporate office environment with several years spent in Human Resources. In 2006, I left the office world and became self-employed…a decision that I have never regretted! I’ve always considered myself a “Jill of All Trades” but when Gary approached me about writing resort blogs for Heartland’s web site, I was both flattered and intimidated. After being a guest at the lodge all those years, I knew the bar would be set high.
Not only do I write blogs for the resort, but I’ve also been lucky enough to practice my passion for photography. I try to use my own photos for my blogs but sometimes I have to call on the help of family or friends. I’ve also taken many pictures that Gary has been nice enough to use on Heartland’s Facebook page! I love knowing that my blogs and pictures have such a large audience and hopefully, through my future travels, that audience will continue to grow.
Dan and I currently live about an hour northwest of St. Louis on a little over 5 acres. We have three horses and enjoy finally being back in the country! We have grown to consider Gary, Wanda and the staff at the lodge family! We hope you will too!
Nicole Palmisano - Lodge Blogger & Pinterest
It’s funny where life leads you. I discovered Harpole’s Heartland Lodge through a Facebook advertisement and have been a huge fan ever since! My husband and I visited the lodge on a rainy summer day in 2012 and I was so impressed that I thought I’d write a blog article about how effectively the lodge uses social media. Through this experience, I met Gary and his team. Now I write for the “Conferences, Retreats, and Meetings” and “Resort” blogs! My professional career has given me a great deal of experience planning, organizing and staffing meetings and events, while my interest in all things natural, girly, and fun allow me to try my hand at the resort blog every now and again. I also handle the lodge’s Pinterest Boards and am thrilled to be helping organize the lodge’s Girls’ Getaways!
My husband and I live in Springfield, Illinois. We moved to Springfield after graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2008. I have a BA in Political Science and a minor in German. I love traveling with my husband, watching movies, cooking, and learning new things.
I am so delighted to be a part of the team at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge! Everyone is so kind and knowledgeable. I’m confident that if you come visit, you’ll definitely agree!
Other Team Members
In addition to the team members mentioned above, we have many full and part time cooks, servers, housekeepers and guides that make our daily operations complete. They are a very important part of the Heartland team, and without their contributions we could not provide the exceptional experience that our guests have to come to expect.
If you would like to join our team, please contact us to see what positions are available.