HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners is back to a full complement, with every seat on the board filled, including a newly established District 9 seat.
The state senate recently approved Gov. Tom Wolf’s appointments of Todd A. Pride and Robert C. Schwalm to four-year terms on the Board of Commissioners.
Pride, of Cochranville, Chester County, was selected from District 8, which now includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. This position had been vacant since former Commissioner Brian Hoover’s term expired.
Schwalm, of Bethlehem, Lehigh County, was selected for the newly created District 9 seat, which covers Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton and Schuylkill counties.
While commissioners are selected from districts throughout the Commonwealth to ensure uniform representation of citizens, once appointed, they represent all Pennsylvanians.
Pride, who is the first African-American appointed to the board, is the founder of Legacy Land & Water Partners, and lead coach with the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers and Outdoor Partners, the mission of which is to grow diverse participation in outdoors and conservation activities by introducing and training urban, suburban and rural area youth, and their supporting adults in fishing, boating, archery, hunting heritage, agriculture, conservation, and wildlife education activities. His 14 years of experience with the latter organization will serve him well on the board. He hopes to focus his role as a commissioner to recruit new hunters from all backgrounds.
Pride, who is an alum of The Episcopal Academy and attended Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Economics and Marketing, grew up in Philadelphia and has a good grasp on the state’s largest city’s diverse population where many have come from areas where hunting and the outdoors were important.
“My background in the area will allow me to further the Game Commission’s mission to new and relapsed hunters who transplanted from other areas of the country,” Pride said. “I’m deeply honored to serve on the Board of Game Commissioners and I’m looking forward to working with the other board members. A primary focus of mine is helping the Game Commission leadership and staff expand the knowledge of the Commission’s role as our state’s wildlife management agency to the residents of District 8,” he added.
Schwalm grew up in Branchdale, Schuylkill County, and has extensive experience in the outdoors. He has been a hunter in Pennsylvania for 52 years, and has hunted in 20 states and three Canadian provinces. He is a Hunter-Trapper Education Instructor and actively involved in mentoring youth hunters, in addition to involvement in many conservation organizations.
He is especially proud of his involvement with the Jerry Zimmerman National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter JAKES event.
Schwalm has a bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University in Education and is employed by LB Water in Selinsgrove as a sales consultant, where he’ll put his business experience and sense of responsibility to work on the board.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve on the Board of Game Commissioners,” he said. “As a hunter and conservationist, I feel it is my responsibility to give back. I’m excited to work with the other commissioners to continue creating opportunities to recruit, reactivate and retain hunters and conservationists,” he added.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans welcomed the new commissioners aboard.
“Commissioners Pride and Schwalm both have made hunting and spending time in the outdoors priorities in their lives, and their extensive backgrounds will allow them to hit the ground running in serving Pennsylvania’s hunters and trappers,” Burhans said. “They bring unquestionable value to a board that now is at a full complement, and I look forward to working alongside them to advance wildlife conservation and make hunting and trapping in the Keystone State better than it’s ever been.”
The new District 9 seat is a result of legislation introduced by Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie. With the new district established, and Districts 7 and 8 realigned, the counties each of these districts share similar land features and wildlife habitats.
“The implementation of the new district allows rural areas the ability to better manage their wildlife for conservation and recreation,” Laughlin said. “The landscape and wildlife problems in Philadelphia County are vastly different than the issues faced in northern Berks County. These differences warranted the need to have separate representation when it comes to decisions regarding wildlife.”
District 7, which is overseen by Commissioner Stanley I. Knick Jr., now represents Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.
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