Southeast Chapter Leaders

Ty.jpgTyrell Woodward - Regional Director

“I am excited for the future of BHA and my personal involvement. The more I invest in the organization the more I get out of it. I am continually finding that there are more and more like-minded hunters and anglers who also call BHA home.” –Ty Woodward, Colorado BHA Southeast Group Regional Director[1]

Ty was born and raised in Lamar, Colorado. He grew up hunting small game and upland birds (pheasant, quail and doves) along with fishing the lakes—for walleye, crappie, catfish, small and largemouth bass—in southeast Colorado. Ty moved to Colorado Springs for college and started hunting elk, mule deer, and Arkansas River Valley whitetails, in addition to working as a seasonal employee for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and in the hunting department at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

He heard about BHA through the MeatEater podcasts with Steven Rinella. “After listening to the podcasts and discussions with guests,” Ty said, “I decided that an organization with the caliber of hunters/conservationists represented in his podcast was worth my involvement and money.”

Ty has a BS in Biology from Colorado College and a MS in Wildlife Biology from CSU-Pueblo. He was a CPW seasonal technician for nine years and currently lives in Florissant, working as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist, with a focus on Forested Habitat, for CPW, NRCS and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. “I currently hunt elk, whitetail, mule deer, turkeys and small game, including pheasants,” Ty says. He hunts with both rifle and bow.

“I would also like to note that I am excited to be able to pass along the traditions of hunting and fishing to my children as they grow older like my dad did for me. I have the support of a wonderful wife which allows me to spend time in the woods each year and increases the gratification of filling the freezer with game meat,” Ty adds. “I am excited for the future of BHA and my personal involvement. The more I invest in the organization the more I get out of it. I am continually finding that there are more and more like-minded hunters and anglers who also call BHA home.”

john_barkowski.pngJohn Barkowski - Assistant Regional Group Leader

John was born and raised in Orland Park, Illinois (south suburb of Chicago), and traveled often to visit family in Colorado. He grew up hunting (bow and rifle) and fishing with his dad, grandpa and family friends on the Chippewa River in Ojibwa, Wisconsin, as well the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the fall, hunting included white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, pheasant, doves and Canada goose. Species for fishing included bass, walleye, muskies, crappie, perch, trout and northern pike.

After high school, John moved to Marquette, Michigan, where he graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science from Northern Michigan University (NMU). Upon graduation, he moved to New Orleans and worked on a variety of recovery projects from Hurricane Katrina. His outdoor time in the south was spent chasing redfish and speckled trout mixed in with mule deer and antelope hunts in Wyoming and an elk hunt in Montana. 

He moved to Colorado during 2015 and is currently pursuing his masters degree in forest ecology as well as a certificate in advanced silviculture and currently works for the Colorado State Forest Service conducting surveys for the forest inventory and analysis program. “I’ve always been a member of hunter-conservation groups,” he said. “I co-founded the student chapter for Ducks Unlimited at NMU and have been a member of both RMEF and Mule Deer Foundation.”

Wanting to do more, John refers back to a statement he heard in college, which resulted in him changing majors: “Nature exists within the balance of itself but humans continue to threaten its existence.” With that notion in mind, he joined Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and started his pursuit of protecting public lands.

John currently spends much of the season chasing elk, mule deer, whitetails, antelope, bear and turkey. “I’m looking to expand that list with other North American and African species, and improve my fly fishing skills,” he says. John and his wife live in Colorado Springs.

Screen_Shot_2019-10-30_at_9.43.29_AM.pngKyle Vistuba - Membership Recruitment Coordinator

Kyle was born in Texas but raised in Colorado. “My dad first took me fishing when I was 5,” he said. “First tried some dove hunting when I was 10 and started hunting big game when I was 12 with pronghorn and deer.” Kyle attended the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) and has a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental with an emphasis in GIS. His free time on weekends, when he isn’t hunting/fishing, is spent working at a bike and ski shop.

“I do enjoy small game hunting, but spend most of my time hunting big game, including elk, deer and antelope,” Kyle says. “Recently had a successful mountain goat hunt. Spend summers fishing for trout and recently discovered how fun ice fishing is.” Most of his hunting is done with a rifle, but Kyle also uses a muzzleloader and bow. He first heard about BHA on the Meateater Podcast and lives in Colorado Springs.

Drew_T_Pic.jpgDrew Trujillo - Sponsorship and Media Coordinator

Drew was born and raised in Falcon, Colorado, just outside of Colorado Springs. He grew up going on elk hunts with his father and grandfather and went fishing occasionally, but sports was a priority for him growing up. Drew attended Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs where he played football and baseball, then attended King University in Bristol, Tennessee, and played starting shortstop for three years.

“It wasn’t until after I was done playing college baseball and moved back to Colorado Springs that I found my passion again for our public lands,” he said. “I wouldn’t be who I am without the influence of both my father and grandfather. My father is my best friend and someone that I will never be able to thank enough for what he has done to help me find the outdoors again after my playing days. Thank you Dad!”

“I am a year round outdoorsman here in Colorado,” Drew added. He hunts turkeys in the spring and spends summers scouting and fishing high alpine lakes. “Picked up fly-fishing recently and fell in love even though I’m definitely still a beginner,” he says. Drew also hunts elk, antelope, mule deer, whitetails and bear with bow and rifle along with chasing waterfowl. “Ice fishing has become one of our favorite activities as a family,” he said.

“The people that I have already met through BHA in this short time I have been involved have become some of my closest friends and great hunting partners,” Drew says. “We are very excited for the future of BHA here in Colorado, we have built an extraordinary team and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us! My nephew, Isaiah, has been the biggest influence for my family to protect public lands for him and future generations and he is a strong motivator for the effort I put into what we do here with Colorado BHA.”

Drew heard about BHA through both the Steven Rinella and Randy Newberg platforms. “Had a great conversation at an event here in Colorado Springs with Ty Woodward, our regional director,” he said. “Got involved as soon as I could after that!” Drew worked for the LA Clippers and Colorado Springs Sky Sox before making the move to the commercial insurance industry. He lives in Colorado Springs with his “beautiful partner in crime, Elizabeth Borris.”

Drew also appeared on Fox News discussing/promoting Colorado BHA’s “Campfire Stores: A Public Lands & Military Event” in Colorado Springs, which was held on Thursday, August 1 (at Stargazers Theater). Also see: “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Team Up With Veterans For Campfire Stories.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/13/19.

Amber_L-Fish1.jpegAmber Leach - Assistant Regional Director 

The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) recently appointed Amber Leach to serve as an Assistant Regional Director for the Southeast Colorado region.

Amber was born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, in the home of parents who were avid hunters, anglers and staunch proponents of the 2nd Amendment. “My father owned a deer processing business where I was charged with salting hides for chore money, exposing me very early to the world of hunting,” she said.

“It was also common to spend a Saturday helping to skin squirrels for stew (which I never learned to love), watching dad work his magic reloading ammunition, chasing trout in a mountain stream or scouting the woods for prime opportunities,” Amber added. At the time, Amber had no way of knowing what a gift her parents were giving her. Being raised in the outdoors has deeply rooted in her the importance of preserving our public lands and waters for future generations.

“As an avid fly-fisher, I see our own negligence and apathy echoed back by Mother Nature every time I step into a body of water,” she says. This has given her a sense of urgency to help protect those waters by raising awareness about the issues facing rivers, lakes and streams across the world today. Amber firmly believes that each of us can make a difference, even in the smallest of ways.

After graduate school Amber relocated to Kentucky, where she fell in love with fly fishing and served on the flagship Kentucky BHA Board of Directors. In 2020, Amber relocated to Colorado. “It is my desire to help promote water health, sustainability and proper usage across the Rocky Mountains and beyond,” Amber explained. As a first-generation conservationist, she’s quickly learned that the road ahead has the potential to be long and bumpy.

But she also knows that the collaboration of just a few like-minded people can make all the difference in the world. “I’m super excited to join forces with y’all and get my hands dirty doing some good work,” she said. “I’m wide open to ideas, suggestions and any opportunity to collaborate with folks on this team and elsewhere. I’m also super excited to learn all about big game hunting from those of you that are already on that journey.”

“We are pleased to have a hunter-angler-conservationist of Amber’s caliber join the Colorado BHA Chapter Leadership Team,” chapter co-chair David Lien said. “She embodies the can-do attitude articulated by Margaret Mead, who said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”

“Just show up. And keep showing up. Don’t wait for an invitation. Don’t wait for life to be fair, as my mother always reminds me, ‘life ain’t fair,’” Amber wrote in the Spring 2021 Backcountry Journal. “Build your own table if no one saves you a seat at theirs. Hold your ground, and let others see you break a sweat doing it.”[1] We’re looking forward to holding our ground and breaking a sweat in defense of our “wild public lands, waters and wildlife” alongside Amber. Wildlands and wildlife need many more like her.