Matthew Brantner – Executive Director     

Matt B.jpgMatthew 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 with a small group of dedicated individuals 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.

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.

Stephanie Hanna – Environmental Education Manager

stephKnown as the WisCorps’ Nature Teacher and token Canadian, Stephanie has been teaching environmental education in an informal setting in the La Crosse Area for 18 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, hiking, cycling, reading and just being outside as much as she can.

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.  Her absolute favorite thing to hear from her students is “Wow!  I didn’t know ……!”  She loves to learn and visits other nature centers and natural areas wherever she goes with her husband Greg in tow.  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 critters.

Chad DuChateau – Operations Manager

chadThe glacial lakes of central Wisconsin is where Chad first learned the magic of being outside all the time. Woods, water, and a canoe was all he needed to get direction in life. He studied Landscape Architecture and Horticulture at UW-Madison. His first “corps” experience came after graduation, as a Peace Corps volunteer Chad traveled to the South Pacific island country of Vanuatu and worked with the Department of Forestry. The experience inspired a desire to travel and learn in the outdoors. He went on to build trail on the Continental Divide in Colorado, taught Leave No Trace as an “LNT Traveling Trainer”, and was an environmental educator on an island in the Chesapeake Bay.

Through it all he remained proud of his Wisconsin roots. Chad joined WisCorps in 2013 as a Crew Leader and has been the Conservation Program Coordinator since 2014.  Mentoring young people and conservation stewardship are what he values most about WisCorps.  Living in the Driftless area with his family is a true treasure.

Matt Gaworski – AmeriCorps Program Manager

matt-gWisCorps AmeriCorps Program Manager, Matt Gaworski, is a graduate of Viterbo University in La Crosse WI. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Sociology and Psychology. He has been working in youth programming since 2000 and has over 15 years of case management experience. In his free time Matt enjoys playing music and is the drummer for the La Crosse based rock band, “This Could Be the Day.” Matt has been working with WisCorps for 2 years and enjoys the friendly atmosphere and all the great people he gets to encounter out in the community.


Tammy Schmitz – Myrick Park Center General Manager

tammyTammy 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 accepted the opportunity to join the WisCorps team in September 2016 as the Facility and Events Coordinator.

Tammy is a native French Islander and currently resides there with her partner Jon and their dog Joplin. She enjoys traveling, spending time outside, and being involved in the community.   Tammy and Joplin volunteer as a Pet Therapy Team through the Coulee Region Humane Society.

Andrea Frisch – Conservation Program Manager

AndreaInclusive Program Coordinator, 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 outdoors and adaptive sports. She is dedicated to creating greater accessibility to nature and outdoor recreation for people of all abilities. When she is not at WisCorps, Andrea enjoys practicing and teaching yoga; birding, hiking, skiing, and camping with her partner, Ryan and his service dog Wally.

Emily Post – Administrative Coordinator

Emily.jpgEmily 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 with an Environmental Studies minor. A favorite college professor of hers connected her to a job as an SCA AmeriCorps Intern with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. After that, Emily spent two summers working as a ranger for the U.S. National Park Service in Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks. She loved those experiences, but moved back to La Crosse start the next chapter of her life with her husband and two sons. She enjoys hiking, camping, playing guitar, sewing, and musicals.

David Wastart – Facility & Operations Assistant

circle-cropped (2)David began his path in conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he graduated with a Land Use Planning degree. From there he moved on to Montana.  Enjoying challenging situations and broadening comfort zones moving out West was a dream come true. Having a huge love for the mountains and conservation joining the Montana Conservation Corps as a Wilderness Crew Leader was the perfect move. After that term of service the great unknown was ever present. Moving back home to central Wisconsin was the correct step. Upon arriving back he found there was a Conservation Corps right in his backyard nestled in the Driftless. After spending a year as a Field Assistant with Wiscorps he began a new position for yet another term of service as a Facility And Operations Assistant. In the field of Conservation David can continue to hone his leadership skills and rip n’ roar behind a chainsaw.

Justin Holten – Naturalist Corps

Justin.jpgJustin was born and raised in La Crosse Wisconsin. Growing up in the outdoors, he learned to have a knack for enjoying anything relating to nature. As a kid, Justin joined the Boy Scouts of America, where he began to excel as a leader and camp counselor. Receiving training in 2015 for in depth outdoor education and specializing in Leave No Trace, Justin brings his skills to help better our community through furthering the knowledge of the local natural areas.
Justin is proud of his accomplishments of being an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor in the Boy Scouts, and has traveled across the country participating in training, events and adventures ranging from back-country camping, to running a summer camp, and more.               


Amber Bydynkowski – Naturalist Corps & Facility Assistant

AmberAmeriCorps member, 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 onto a position in the Environmental Education department. In her free time, Amber enjoys hiking, kayaking and camping, but most of all, spending any time she can outside with her dog, Nala.


Mai Yang– Naturalist Corps

circle-croppedMai grew up in La Crosse and after high school went to a couple different universities before she decided to take a break and explore other opportunities. She worked for a few years before returning to WTC to study to become a medical assistant. After working 2 years in a clinic, Mai pursued service opportunities with AmeriCorps. In 2018 she served with AmeriCorps NCCC for a year at their Vicksburg, MS campus. Upon returning, Mai lead the Mayor’s Crew over the summer with WisCorps and then took another position with them as a naturalist corps member. In her free time, she likes to swing in her hammock, bake, play sports (soccer is #1), attempt DIY projects, and spend lots of time with her big family. One of Mai’s comfort foods is a noodle dish called pho and she gets at least one bowl where ever she travels. If she could hang out with one famous person, it would be a showdown between Chris Pratt or Zac Efron.


Bella Thiesenhusen– Naturalist Corps

circle-cropped (1)AmeriCorps member, Bella Thiesenhusen, began her journey with nature at a young age, spending time with her family at their cabin & gardening with her mother. She spent every day adventuring outside & always returned home with the grass stains & mud to prove it.  Before coming to La Crosse for college, Bella spent over 600 hours volunteering & was the co-director of the arts for summer 2016 at Camp Anokijig in Plymouth, WI. Bella graduated from UW-LaCrosse with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Environmental Studies this past August & joined our staff September 2019. Bella enjoys camping, traveling & spending time with her friends when she can but loves to busy herself with animals & studying to receive her Wildlife Rehabilitator Certification.              

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