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Our organization’s spirit began in 2016 with Veterans, and First Responders gathered together using camaraderie of outdoor activities to address both the physical and mental health challenges brought on by the stresses of service and ultimately aide in the prevention of suicide. Wisconsin Hero Outdoors offers a variety of outdoor complementary therapies to our participants and their families. WHO’s field staff operates with 100% volunteer team. Support from State grants allows for our administrative cost to make 100% of donations serve our mission. Our core values are “Honor. Courage. Conservation.”

The members of Wisconsin Hero Outdoors are Veterans and First Responders representing America’s United States Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard, along with Federal and Local Law Enforcement agencies, including Fire/Rescue and Dispatch. Along with personally utilizing services at the Veterans Administration, our founders and advisors continue to be involved in a variety of non-profit organizations throughout Wisconsin as leaders, participants, volunteers and financial supporters.

Meet Our Team

Tammy Sawyer
President/Development Director

Tammy joined the Wisconsin Hero Outdoors team in the summer of 2019. With a strong background in digital marketing, project management, event planning, and volunteerism, Tammy assists WHO with a variety of elements within the organization. Her involvement ranges from fundraising, operational, and long term strategic growth events that support the Wisconsin Hero Outdoors Mission.



George Jozwiak
Treasurer – Board of Directors

In 1996 George graduated from Quincy University with a degree in Accounting and Finance. But George was not satisfied with sitting behind a desk. So, in 2000 George started serving his community as a Fire Fighter/EMT. For his service to his community, George was promoted to the rank of Fire Captain. He was allowed to serve more by training the fire crews as a Fire Instructor. 2009 was awarded Medal of Valor, citation from Senate, and commendation from WI legislation for an ice rescue. In 2018 George ran the Boston Marathon, raising money for disabled veterans and first responders. He brings over 19 years of experience with numerous charity partners and fundraising events.


James “Groovy” Cocroft

James M. Cocroft aka “Groovy” joined the United States Navy in 1987, he served on several naval warships, Staff and shore commands serving as the Track Supervisor, Interface Control Officer, Naval Law Enforcement Officer as an Operations Specialist. He obtained his Surface and Air warfare pin during his career. He participated in several operations such as counter narcotic ops in the Caribbean, Desert Shield /Storm 90-91, and Iraqi Freedom 2003. After twenty (20) years of military service, James retired Sept 1, 2007.

Beth Sawant

Board of Directors – Women’s Outreach

After retiring from 20 years of service in the WI Air National Guard, Beth joined the WI Hero Outdoors Team. During her time in the military, she worked as a Crew Chief on the KC-135R, commissioned as a Maintenance Officer, became the Wing Public Affairs Officer, then took command of Maintenance Operations. On the civilian side, Beth leads a team of 7 sales professionals focusing on the execution of neurotoxin training and sales for a company that delivers innovative medicine to enhance people’s lives. Beth enjoys the outdoors and is usually running, hiking, or paddling.


Bill Lincoln

Board of Directors

Bill Lincoln, with 35 years of experience as a dedicated volunteer firefighter, Advanced EMT, and Dive Team leader, began volunteering with Wisconsin Hero Outdoors in the fall of 2022. His remarkable journey culminated as the Fire Chief of the department. When not serving the community, Bill relishes his summers by hunting bass alongside his loyal companion, Ruger, and spends the autumn months pursuing deer.

Eric Falkner

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Eric began his military service in 1999 in the Army ROTC program at Marquette University and shortly after 9/11 he enlisted in the US Marine Corps where he was medically discharged. Following the Marine Corps, Eric worked as a Senior Regional Manager in the Securities, Insurance and Mortgage Financial Services industry overseeing over 2 dozen representatives in WI, MN and IL. He’s also worked as a Firefighter, Fire/Rescue/Dive Team, and Dispatcher.

In addition to being the Co-Founder & Executive Director of Wisconsin Hero Outdoors, Eric is currently finishing his degree at Marquette University in the College of Business Administration with a major in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Eric is a father of two boys ages 5 & 3.

Tom Fischer

Event Coordinator 

Tom Fischer, a retired Army Senior Logistics Master Sergeant, dedicated 32 years of service across various commands, including active duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard. During his service, MSG Fischer earned accolades such as the Global War on Terror and Iraqi Campaign Medal, as well as the Meritorious Service Medal.

Beyond his military career, Thomas cherishes his 28-year marriage to his wife, Kay. Their two daughters, described as strong and independent, take after their mother. Thomas actively volunteers and networks, particularly focusing on engaging youth in lifelong hobbies like golf, fishing, and curling.

Jason Bartol
Co-Founder & Board Advisor

Jason served over 12 years in the United States Air Force, also worked as a Franklin Police Officer and subsequently a Federal Air Marshal where he was medically retired. Jason co-founded Wisconsin Hero Outdoors and serves as the President of the Board of Directors and is a stay-at-home dad for his 2 girls.

Robert Johnson
Board Advisor

Robert began his career by starting a painting business in Illinois shortly after graduating high school.  He then used that business to pay for studying Business Administration at Western State of Colorado.  Then he joined the Army in Montana which took him to Washington State where he was an Army Ranger with the 2/75 Ranger Regiment.  5 years later he left the military and started Cascade Home Inspections, Inc.  During that time, he also started another business called Northstar Digital Media, Inc in which he provided internet solutions to small and medium size businesses.  When the terrorist attacked on 9/11, he felt the need to serve his country again and became a Federal Air Marshal. Adding another business to his resume, Robert now runs a small garment and promotional company called Specink Designs, LLC.   Co-Founding and serving as the Chief Information Officer of Wisconsin Hero Outdoors, Robert has a wide and diverse background to accomplish the mission of helping those who serve and served.

Tyler Thiede
Northwest Wisconsin Program Coordinator

Tyler has been with us from the beginning, donating his business (Small Craft Outfitters) fleet of Feelfree Kayaks, Bending Branches paddles, and guide services to various events in Northwest and North Central Wisconsin.

Tyler lives in the small town of Spring Valley, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids and has a passion for kayak fishing and the outdoors. There he is an IT consultant by day, a small business owner and volunteer EMT in his free time. Tyler also helps benefit WHO through his custom rod building. He builds a custom “Responder Line” of open water and ice rods. Some are donated to local police, fire, and EMS department fundraisers. For any custom orders, part of the proceeds are donated to Wisconsin Hero Outdoors!

JD Englehardt
Southcentral Wisconsin Program Coordinator

JD Engelhardt joined the US Army after graduation from High school. He served in the military for four years deploying to Iraq once as a Combat Engineer. Then he attended Augustana College in Rock Island Il for his BA in Political Science, Communication studies, and Religion studies. After graduating college, he started his career working for Non-profits, first by spending a year doing service work in Madagascar, now does community work in Madison, WI. 



Brad Hurlebaus
Southcentral Wisconsin Program Coordinator

Brad started volunteering with Wisconsin Hero Outdoors in the summer of 2020. With his background in operations and experience in the outdoors, he is a great asset in planning our trips. You will find Brad mentoring new fishermen and hunters throughout all four seasons in Wisconsin.


Brian Stenz
Northeastern Wisconsin Area Program Coordinator 

In May of 2019, Brian started running Wind Power Surf Shop in Fond du Lac, WI. In March 2020, he took over full operations of the shop, and the shop became known as Wind Power Watersports. Specializing in old windsurfing parts, many of which are 15-20 years old or more, custom-making adaptive parts to work with new gear. Wind Power Surf Shop sells and rents kayaks, paddleboards, windsurfing gear, and Kiting gear. We hope to offer a full range of instruction in each of these areas soon. We repair all types of equipment from fiberglass surfboards, paddleboards, kites, canoes, and small sailboats. We maintain a full weather station system for Lake Winnebago featuring cameras and wind indicators in Neenah, Menasha, Appleton, Oshkosh, High Cliff, and Fond du Lac.

Brian’s Experience:


Army National Guard 2 years Mechanized Infantry. Army Active Duty 4 years UH-60 Blackhawk Mechanic Crew chief (medical discharge). 7 Years Area 2 Dive Rescue covering 13 counties in Western Kentucky. 7 Years Hopkins County Emergency Management Volunteer. 7 Years Hopkins County Kentucky Volunteer Firefighter. 22 Years Liberty Parachute Team Airshow support and Rigger. Host staff and Organizer for the World Ice and Snow Sailing Association WISSA 2015 and 2019 Fond du Lac. Ice Windsurfing and Kiting events.


Allison Kitzerow
Assistant Public Relations

9/11 happened during Allison’s sophomore year at Marquette University, and a few months later, she enlisted in the Army Reserve and went to Basic Combat Training and Military Police School. At the start of the Iraq War in 2003, her Army Reserve Unit deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. They built a prison camp called Camp Bucca and served as prison guards at that camp until Feb. 2004.
When Allison returned home from that deployment, she finished her Bachelor of Arts at Marquette, and used the GI Bill to obtain a Master of Arts from UW-Milwaukee. She completed nine years of service in the Army Reserve and got out in 2011 as a Staff Sergeant.
In early 2019, Allison started working as a Global Communications Manager at Johnson Outdoors, a global outdoor recreation equipment company that inspires people to get out into the great outdoors. Soon after, she also started participating in and volunteering at Wisconsin Hero Outdoors events, including learning how to fish for the very first time this past summer! Beyond being an outdoor enthusiast, she loves to explore the world—recently traveling solo to Iceland, Portugal, the Azores Islands and Spain.




Wisconsin Hero Outdoors Inc is committed to equal employment and volunteer opportunity without regard to age, ancestry, disability, national or ethnic origin, race, religious belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, political belief, or veteran status. This policy applies to all areas of employment and volunteer participation, including recruitment, hiring, training and development, promotion, transfer, termination, layoff, compensation, benefits, social and recreational programs, all other conditions and privileges of employment in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.