As our series of interviews with Pennsylvania conservation officers continues, I’m happy to introduce Cheryl Trewella, who has been with the Game Commission over 27 years. After graduating from the PGC training school, Cheryl was assigned as a Wildlife Conservation Officer in Bucks County. She was there for about 12 years before being promoted to the Southeast Region Office, Reading, as the Information & Education Supervisor for that area. Cheryl's current position entails supervising regional WCO's and providing information and education to the public through publications, media, displays, and other outreach materials. Cheryl also supervises and administers the Hunter Education program for the region. And she's also a passionate hunter and trapper! Here's what Cheryl had to say about life on the job. Thanks, Cheryl! -K.H.
FSHuntress: What made you want to work for the Game Commission?
Cheryl Trewella: I was raised in a hunting family. Both of my parents (particularly my mother) were avid hunters and passed that tradition on to my brother, sister and me. I graduated from Penn State with a forestry degree with an emphasis on wildlife management. The Game Commission seemed like a natural path for me to take. I have been with the Game Commission for over 27 years and I have never regretted the path I have chosen. It is a great job and I have had the fortune to work with some of the most dedicated people you could ever find. Even with all the grief we occasionally get, everyone keeps in mind the mission that we are doing this for the benefit of wildlife and the people of the Commonwealth.
FS: What's a typical day like?
CT: This depends on the time of the year. There are a lot of large-scale exhibits and displays in the region, particularly January through April. This is also the time of year when the Hunter Education schedule is gearing up for the new year and I spend a good deal of time training WCO's and volunteer instructors. Because of the large population in the southeast part of the state, there is always something going on and an overwhelming amount of things to do year round.
FS: You mentioned that you hunt --
CT: I have been a hunter since I was 12 years old. While my family occasionally went small game hunting, deer hunting was always the main emphasis.
Because hunting season is the time of year when WCO's are usually the busiest, hunting took a backseat while I was in Bucks County. While I still don't have a huge amount of time to hunt, since coming to the region office, I have expanded my hunting experiences to include archery and turkey hunting.
About 10 years ago, one of my co-workers decided to get back into trapping and I asked him to show me the ropes. I have since trapped fox, raccoon, muskrat and was fortunate enough to draw a bobcat permit and successfully harvest a PA bobcat! My passion though is beaver trapping and my trapping partner and I have been very successful, particularly in urban areas where beavers cause damage.
FS: What's the best thing about your job?
CT: The variation from day to day. Each day is different. You might be participating in a law enforcement activity in the morning and speaking to a scout group in the evening. When a job is driven by public demands and wildlife concerns, lots of things pop up unexpectedly.
FS: What's the most challenging thing about your job?
CT: Over the years I think the most challenging thing for me has been to help the public understand the realities of wildlife and nature: For some hunters, the need to understand that an excessive amount of deer destroys their habitat and in the long run, will destroy the deer population. For some non-hunters, the need to understand how mother nature works and what is an appropriate way to interact with wildlife. For some tax-payers, the need to understand that the Game Commission is not supported by general tax funds and that hunters, trappers and conservationists have paid for the services that we provide.
FS: What do you think hunters might not realize about your job?
CT: A lot of people are under the impression that this is a part time job and we are busy only during the hunting season. While dealing with hunting season is the obvious part of our job, there is so much more. This is more than a full-time, year round job and a lot of our employees donate a lot of time on their own just to try and get the job done. They do this because they believe in what we do.