Meet the WisCorps Staff

Matt B. Profile Pic.jpg

Matthew Brantner

Executive Director

Matthew Brantner is the Executive Director of WisCorps and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  He got his start in conservation corps programs as a Crew Leader and eventual Program Manager for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps in 2005. In 2009, after four years with the corps in Vermont, he worked to bring a conservation corps back to Wisconsin by founding WisCorps.

In addition to loving his role at WisCorps, Matthew is an avid outdoors person who loves camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and cycling.  He enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters on their small farm where they garden and care for the land.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Website Profile Crop (2).jpg

Eric Robertson
Director of Conservation Corps Programs

Eric Robertson started with WisCorps in August 2021 as the Director of Conservation Corps Programs. Before coming to WisCorps, Eric and his fiancé were thru-hiking the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Eric grew up in Madison, Wisconsin but had been out west living and working in California for the better part of a decade. More recently, he worked for the American Conservation Experience, another non-profit corps, as the Pacific West Director and was responsible for developing models and launching programs based in California, Oregon & Hawaii. Eric got his start in conservation corps as a AmeriCorps member in 2012 and then transitioned into a wilderness Crew Lead before pursuing AmeriCorps program support and non-profit administration. He holds a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 
 
When not at WisCorps, Eric enjoys backpacking; cross-county skiing, and hiking with his partner, Jenny. 
 
Eric is incredibly excited to settle in at WisCorps and to have the opportunity to contribute his expertise to an expanding conservation corps in his home state.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Steph Photo.jpg

Stephanie Hanna
Community Program Manager

Known as WisCorps’ Nature Teacher and token Canadian, Stephanie has been an educator in an informal setting in the La Crosse Area for 21 years. Stephanie’s constant connection to nature ever since she played with and likely ate June bugs in her sandbox at a very young age, has helped shape her role as an environmental/nature educator.  She enjoys walking and hiking with Astro, her precocious poodle, as well as cycling, yoga, reading, and just being outdoors as much as possible.


Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan and worked as an elementary and middle school teacher for 9 years before moving to the Driftless Area.  She loves to learn and to teach others about what she knows. Stephanie is also an avid film fan and dreams of the day when she can join some of her favorite famous biologists in the great outdoors to film some amazing interactions with nature’s creatures. 

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Holly_Pierro.jpg

Holly Pierro
Individual Placement Coordinator

Holly Pierro grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. While her love of the outdoors didn’t begin until adulthood, this passion led her to working many seasonal jobs across the country including as a Youth Conservation Corps Crew Leader with Montana Conservation Corps. Holly has worked mostly in Environmental Education, and eventually took on a Coordinator role at a small non-profit camp in California for three years. She is excited to join the Conservation Corps world again as the Individual Placement Coordinator!
Holly holds a Bachelor’s degree  in Zoology from Texas A&M University, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Environmental Science from University of Idaho. When not at Wiscorps, she enjoys hiking with her husband and their two dogs.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
FB_IMG_1603910338868.jpg

Ashley Nowak

Nature Teacher

AmeriCorps member, Ashley Nowak, grew up in rural central Wisconsin surrounded by forest and the Wisconsin River.  She had a privileged upbringing in the sense that she was able to don mud-boots and tromp around her backyard before her mother was yelling for supper at the door or her grandfather was swinging by with fishing poles for them to go sit on the culvert at the nearby creek.  Her interest in the outdoors, but her desire for change brought her to La Crosse for college at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where she explored many interests.  This included a summer internship in the Caribbean studying coral and parasites in fish, a summer spent working on a pre-Native American dig-site, and a volunteer opportunity with the Brice Prairie Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Onalaska, WI.  After exploring all of these opportunities she graduated with a Bachelors in Biology and Archaeology with a minor in Environmental Studies. Following graduation, she decided to pursue another avenue of working with the environment—a Roving Crew with WisCorps.  It was such an amazing experience that she returned to lead a summer Mayor’s Crew, followed by her current Naturalist Corps position where she teaches environmental education.  Some of her hobbies outside of work include hammocking, SCUBA diving, kayaking, reading, and art!

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Duluthnorthshore.jpg

Kyle Willoughby
Nature Teacher

AmeriCorps member, Kyle Willoughby, has been an explorer at heart for as long as he can remember. Digging holes in his parent’s garden, climbing trees, and exploring the woods near his childhood home, he dreamed of adventures, even after he was scolded for tracking mud in the house. This led Kyle to pursue a degree in archaeology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, graduating in 2018. He performed archaeology all over the Upper Midwest before starting at WisCorps. Committed to inspiring others to pursue knowledge of the outdoors and the greater Driftless region, Kyle now works with Environmental Education department as an AmeriCorps Nature Teacher. In his free time, Kyle enjoys hiking, paddling, camping, and learning about the history and pre-History of the Wisconsin and the greater Midwest.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
deb.jpeg

Deb Ward

Director of Development

Deb Ward is the Director of Development for WisCorps. Deb graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and from Saint Mary’s University in Winona with a Master’s degree in philanthropy and development. She has held a variety of positions in the nonprofit sector and has experience with donor solicitation and stewardship, grants, special events, annual appeals, and capital campaigns. Deb has her Certified Fund Raising Executive designation from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Originally from Pennsylvania Dutch country, Deb moved to Minnesota in 2006 and now calls Winona home. She loves to travel and has been to 42 states, Guam, England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Iceland, and her personal favorite, Greece.

Deb is a published author and writes and journals or just carries stories around in her head! She loves cats and shares her home in Winona with Tanda, an affectionate and beautiful Calico she adopted from the Humane Society. In her spare time, she loves reading novels and bestsellers, making pottery, gardening, walking, going to museums, volunteering in the community, taking photos and hanging out with artists and friends.

Her goal at WisCorps is to provide donors with opportunities to support the mission through philanthropic gifts.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
IMG_7603.jpg

Emily Post
Director of Administration

Emily grew up camping with her family all over Wisconsin, which sparked a lifelong love of the outdoors. She moved to La Crosse in 2009 to attend UW-La Crosse and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Environmental Studies. After college, Emily did an SCA AmeriCorps Internship with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. Then, Emily spent two summers working as a ranger for the U.S. National Park Service in Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Her love for the Driftless region brought her back to La Crosse. She loves exploring with her husband and kiddos, Colton, Will, and Charlotte. She enjoys hiking, camping, playing guitar, crafting, baking, and musicals.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Amber B_edited.jpg

Amber Bydynkowksi
Visitor Services Manager

Amber Bydynkowski fell in love with nature as a young girl in the rural backwoods of central Wisconsin. She never missed a day of adventures outside with her older brother, Nick and childhood dog, Bo. Amber went on to graduate from UW-LaCrosse with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology: Pre-Veterinary Science and Environmental Studies. During the summer of 2016, Amber joined a WisCorps conservation crew and has since moved through several AmeriCorps positions here. After completing three AmeriCorps service terms, Amber has eagerly accepted a full-time position with WisCorps as the Visitor Services Manager. In her free time, Amber enjoys hiking, kayaking and camping, but most of all, spending any time she can outside with her partner, two kids, and their dog, Nala.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
KevinBioPhoto.jpg

Kevin Rossi
Field Coordinator

Kevin Rossi was born and raised in the great state of Michigan; (mid)west coast = best coast! After receiving his bachelors degree in Cinema Art and Science from Columbia College Chicago, Kevin spent several years as a manager at a movie theater before, looking for a change, he typed “Montana outdoor jobs” into Google. Four corps and five states (MT, ME, MA, CO and NH) later, Kevin just can’t seem to leave the woods, and is excited to continue his career in conservation back in the Midwest alongside a great staff at WisCorps.When not out in the field, Kevin enjoys playing the ukulele, reading a good book, and making others laugh.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
staffbiopic.jpg

Shannon Columb

Nature Teacher

At an early age, AmeriCorps member, Shannon Columb, fell in love with the natural world. She spent most of her childhood playing in the woods that surrounded her family’s small dairy farm near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. This connection with nature led Shannon to pursue a career educating others about the wonders of nature. After graduating in May 2020 with her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Education/Interpretation and a certificate in Environmental Ethics from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Shannon moved to La Crosse and eagerly accepted a position at WisCorps as a AmeriCorps Naturalist. In her free time, Shannon loves hiking, kayaking, traveling, reading books, hammocking, journaling, and fishing.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Aetia.jpg

Aetia Oberman
Myrick Park Center Assistant

Growing up, Aetia was always surrounded by nature and loved playing outside. From camping in the woods in their backyard to 4-wheeling in the bluffs, they loved being outdoors whenever they could be. Aetia started with WisCorps in October, with this being their first ever AmeriCorps position. Here at the Myrick Park Center they are responsible for a variety of jobs, ranging from redesigning flyers and gift certificates, to helping with reservations and keeping up with daily facility needs. They also love to help out with taking care of all the educational animals that we have here at the nature center.  Aetia is a recent college graduate from UWL, graduating with their major in Biology and minor in Spanish. They have worked in multiple research roles, ranging from field research on the Mississippi River, to working in the labs at the local USGS branch. Aetia loves working with animals as well as traveling, hiking, hammocking, reading and doing art. They’re always on the lookout for the next adventure.  

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
IMG_8012-2.jpg

Tammy Schmitz
Director of the Myrick Park Center

Tammy Schmitz received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UW-La Crosse in 2009, beginning her career in non-profit youth development. She has served as a Disability Support Specialist at Catholic Charities and District Executive, Senior District Executive, and District Director at the Gateway Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. Tammy became acquainted with the WisCorps mission while the WisCorps Office neighbored the Boy Scout Office on Quarry Road. After years of enthusiastically watching the organization grow, Tammy excitedly joined the WisCorps team in September 2016 as the Facility and Events Coordinator.

Tammy grew up on French Island resides there once again with her partner Jon and their dog Joplin. She enjoys traveling, spending time outside, perpetual pursuit of learning, and being involved in the community. 

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
20200924_090041.jpg

Andrea Frisch
Director of Marketing

Director of Marketing, Andrea Frisch, calls the La Crosse community home for almost 10 years. Andrea grew up in the “Northwoods,” regularly recreating with her family in Wisconsin’s state parks and national forests. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation and a Master’s degree in Recreation Management both from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Andrea is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and bases her practice in the community. She is dedicated to creating greater access to nature and connecting conservation corps members to opportunities in the conservation movement. When she is not at WisCorps, Andrea enjoys practicing yoga; birding, hiking, skiing, and camping with her partner, Ryan and his service dog Wally.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
PaulBioPhoto.jpg

Paul George-Blazevich
Crew Program Manager

Paul began his conservation journey as a Crew Member with WisCorps in the spring of 2017. What was meant to be six weeks of service has turned into a five-year career with conservation non-profits. A Crew Leader position with the Arizona Conservation Corps brought him to Tucson, where his deep appreciation for the saguaro cactus flourished. Paul then worked as an Outreach and Donor Programs Coordinator from 2019 to 2021 with the Upper Valley Land Trust in Hanover, New Hampshire, exploring the White and Green Mountains on the weekends. He returned to Tucson in March of 2021 to join the Tucson Audubon Society Invasive Plant Strike Team. After developing his restoration skills and creating strong bonds with several amazing coworkers, he returned to the organization that began his journey in conservation. Paul was proud to begin his work as Crew Program Manager at WisCorps in March of 2022, fulfilling a dream of returning to WisCorps as a Conservation Corps staff member.

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
SaraBioPhoto.jpg

Sara Remes
Field Coordinator

Growing up on a small farm in Minnesota, Sara grew a passion for nature at a young age. From exploring the prairie reserves down the road, to creating short nature videos with her mom, she knew where she liked to be and that was outside! In college she studied resource and land management and spent a lot of time researching trail management and landscape restoration vs preservation. After college she worked with the MN DNR at Minneopa State Park where she helped with park maintenance, native prairie restoration and maintaining a bison herd enclosure. She then moved to the beautiful driftless area and worked as a Snow Sports Director for a local ski hill before getting hired on as a crew leader with Wiscorps. From there she continued to run the Snow Sports department for the next 3 winters and was a field assistant for WisCorps for 2 more terms before leaving to complete a dream of hiking from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. After finishing the trail, she was drawn back to the driftless for another Snow Sports season before landing back at Wiscorps as a Field Coordinator. She looks forward to many more years in the field of conservation and dreams about which trail to through hike next!

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png
Jacie Pic March 2021.jpg

Jacie Mailey Faas
Administrative Assistant

Jacie was born and raised in La Crosse and lived right above the La Crosse River marsh area as a child.  She, her brothers and many cousins spent many happy hours having adventures in the marsh including building rafts, canoes, forts and exploring.

Jacie has always been interested in nature and the environment.  A lifelong gardener, she became a Master Gardener and was a member of the Bluff Country Master Gardeners for many years.  Her projects included the Hixon House garden, Riverside International Friendship Gardens, and the Myrick Hixon EcoPark gardens.  

Jacie’s family includes her husband, Garry, her kids, Cassie and Bryan, Shelle and Matt, Vince and Jen and two grandchildren, Ellie and Brayden.  They spend many summer hours together at their Nechonec seasonal campsite and camping at Wisconsin State Parks.

Jacie retired from the La Crosse School District two years ago as an administrative assistant after 37 years.  She worked in many La Crosse area schools as a teacher assistant and school secretary.  She has an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems/User Support and Training and taught evening computer classes at Western Technical College as well. 

Retiring gave her the chance to get back to nature and plan more outdoor adventures.  She and some friends started a women’s adventure group, Free Range Adventure Chicks, which meets a few times a month to bike, hike, canoe, kayak and just have fun!  There is no time like the present to enjoy the outdoors!

WiscorpsLogosFinal.png