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Our Mission & Vision

Formally organized in 2016, a group of outdoor industry leaders  dedicated to enhancing the focus on tree stand safety worked  collaboratively to form the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation  (TSSA), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Hunting from a manufactured  tree stand is a safe way to hunt provided the hunter follows the tree  stand manufacturer’s guidelines. However, tree stand related falls  continue to  be one of the top causes of injury and deaths to our deer  hunters. Our focus is to ensure that every hunter  that uses a tree stand does so in a safe manner so that he or she comes  home safe to their family and friends. 

 

Mission

The  mission of the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation is to  significantly reduce tree stand incidents through promotion, education,  and best practices.


Goal

Reduce the estimated number of tree stand falls resulting in an emergency department visit 50% by 2023. 


Vision

Serve as a national resource on tree stand safety awareness.  


Promote research surrounding tree stand safety.


Facilitate  dialog among tree stand industry leaders, governmental officials,  hunter education instructors, public, and other stake holders.


Act as a resource in the development of marketing and educational strategies for safe tree stand use.

Our Board of Directors

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Glen Mayhew, Founding President

Glen is Dean of Jefferson College of Health Sciences  in  Virginia. His nearly 30 years in higher education and  experience as a firefighter/paramedic has created a unique mix of  backgrounds that fuels Glen’s passion for educating people on the safe  practices of tree stand use. Glen is an active Hunter Education  Instructor in Virginia and a member of the Virginia Tree Stand Safety  Team. Glen’s education includes an undergraduate degree in Healthcare  Administration, a Master’s degree in Education and a Doctorate in Health  Sciences. Glen has published articles and presented at the local,  state, national and international levels on various topics, including  research conducted on tree stand safety and hunter’s attitudes and  behaviors toward tree stand safety. In his leisure time, Glen enjoys  music with his wife, Karen, and listening to their son, Hunter perform.  Glen also spends time coaching baseball, and hunting and fishing with  his son. 

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Mitch Strobl, Founding Vice President

Mitch Strobl serves as the Vice President of Business Development  for Kalkomey Enterprises. Mitch and the rest of the Kalkomey team are  dedicated to providing hunter education courses to students across the  world, educating hunters across the United States, Canada, Mexico, New  Zealand and beyond. “Our work saves lives” is the motivating factor for  the Kalkomey team to continue advancing the hunter education experience  for hunters. Mitch lives with his wife in Dallas, Texas. Family and work  are Mitch’s passions. His hobbies include fly-fishing, baseball,  photography and woodworking. 

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Sean Ferbrache, Founding Treasurer

After serving as a member of the Indianapolis Fire Department for 26  years, Sean retired to pursue a career in the business world. As the  Chief Operating Officer for the American Hunting Lease Association, Sean  is responsible for educating landowners and hunters about the benefits  hunting leases. Sean’s work allows him to speak with hunters from all  over the United States. Since hunting, fishing and the outdoors have  always been Sean’s passions, he feels spending time with like-minded  individuals is a true blessing. Sean lives in Indianapolis with his wife  of 25 years and his two daughters. In addition to hunting, Sean enjoys  tennis, reading and the roar of Indy cars. 

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Jay Everett, Founding secretary

Jay Everett is the Marketing Manager for Hunter Safety System. Prior  to joining Hunter Safety System in 2013, Jay was an owner and  co-founder of the consumer hunting expo, Big Buck Expo, in Lakeland, FL.  One of Jay’s first initiatives at Hunter Safety System was to enlist  greater involvement of hunting industry leaders in the cause of tree  stand safety. That initiative became the seed for the Tree Stand Safety  Awareness Foundation. Jay is married with four children. His interests  include time with family, hunting and fishing. Jay is a graduate of  Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. 

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Monte Bennett, Founding Director

I had over 20 years of experience  at Summit Treestands. I joined the  company at a young age of 19 and never looked back. My passion is making  sure that hunters are safe and secure to insure that they enjoy each  and every hunt, and then return to their friend and family to share the  great outdoor stories and experiences. I am currently serving in the  role of Brand Manager, responsible for the overall direction of the  Summit Brand. I live in Huntsville, AL with my wife, Phoebe, and my  daughters, Morgan and Emma. Like me, my family shares a passion for the  outdoors- from hunting, fishing, and camping to college football and  outdoor sports- we love it all! 

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Tom Gallagher, Founding director

Tom Gallagher has been actively involved in the outdoors industry for  over four decades and has played an instrumental role in the evolution  of tree stands and related hunting products. Tom is Cabela’s Vice  President of Merchandizing in Hunting. Tom also serves on the Board of  Directors of Hunter Specialties and previously served on the Boards of  the Archery Trade Association (ATA) and the Treestand Manufacturer’s  Association (TMA). 

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Melissa Neely, Founding director

Melissa Neely is a Wildlife Biologist with the New York Department of  Environmental Conservation. She oversees Region 5 Sportsman Education  Program, Upland Gamebird Program, and manages several Wildlife  Management Areas. In addition, Melissa works locally with nuisance and  conservation projects concerning bear, moose and deer. Previously,  Melissa worked on projects across the country including marine biology  in the Bahamas island of Eleuthera  and raptor ecology in New Mexico.  Melissa received the International Hunter Education Association’s Edward  Kozicky Award in 2012 and 2013. Her hobbies include hunting, fishing,  hiking, kayaking, and camping. She currently serves on the International  Hunter Education Association Board as Vice-President. Melissa is a  graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 

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Jerry Wydner, Founding director

Jerry spent his early years in the airline and insurance industries  before starting Hunter Safety System with his brother, John Wydner and  best friend, Jim Barta in 2001. “Another life saved” is the reason why  Jerry and the Hunter Safety System team creates innovative hunting  safety products for their fellow hunters. Married for 40 years to his  high school sweetheart Mary, Jerry and his wife have two children and  four grandchildren. Family and work are Jerry’s passions and his hobbies  include hunting, fishing and grandchildren. 

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David Blanton, Past Founding director

 With over 25 years with Realtree, David is a familiar face in the outdoor world. David is VP of Television and Video Production - that means he wears a lot of hats at Realtree. He serves as co-host, along with Bill and Tyler Jordan on Realtree Outdoors on Outdoor Channel and Monster Bucks TV on Sportsman Channel. David’s main responsibility at Realtree is to "fly the flag" at various industry and consumer events around the country and to represent Jordan Outdoor Enterprises in a positive and ethical manner. David lives in LaGrange, GA and plays golf with his three sons as much as possible. David says it’s the ultimate foursome. A University of Georgia alum with a degree in Ag Economics, David is quick to tell you he considers himself "blessed beyond measure" and strive to glorify God in everything he does.