Schuylkill graduate lands wildlife conservation job combining two passions

Q: What is the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s ranking system and what are the opportunities for advancement?

Schuster: Currently, I am a District State Game Warden serving District 6-54-2. No rankings are given to us, but we do have opportunities for promotion. There are several ways to be promoted, either to higher level supervisory and management positions or to lands manager positions that oversee the management of wildlife habitat. There are also opportunities to serve as special investigators or in K-9/special investigator positions.

Q: What are examples of continuing education in the gaming commission?

Schuster: The possibilities for continuing or advanced training are vast. I’ve taken everything from firearms courses to fingerprint tracking courses. The gaming commission offers an unlimited amount of training if one wants to improve his skills and professional performance.

Q: What does an ordinary day in the life of a game warden look like?

Schuster: Being a game warden is a unique job, and I’m not sure any two conservation officers do it the same way. A typical day starts with a connection to the Computer Automated Dispatch, where I receive my calls. I will review the calls for the day and prioritize them based on what needs to be attended to immediately. I also try to answer all important emails. Once I hop in the truck, I’ll answer my calls until they’re over, or as new calls come in. After all my calls are done, I usually patrol local state playgrounds or finish any other business – training, paperwork – until I’m done for the day.

Q: What are the toughest calls you answer?

Schuster: I can honestly say that no two calls are ever the same. First of all, I try to be as open-minded as possible when I get a call and not make any immediate assumptions. Over the years, I’ve found that some calls that I thought were quick and easy to handle ended up in a weeks-long investigation. On the other hand, I received calls that I thought were lengthy inquiries that were quickly resolved.

Q: What advice would you give to students who might also be interested in working for the gaming commission?

Schuster: I would recommend them to do their best in everything they do and always give their all. While a college background in biology or criminal justice can be helpful, I believe that a good attitude and a willingness to learn are two essential traits for success in academy. I have to say, this applies in most situations – with the right attitude and a willingness to learn, you can do almost anything you set your mind to.

For more information about alumni activities at Penn State Schuylkill, contact Abigayle Kaiser, the Office of Alumni Relations and Stewardship, or visit schuylkill.psu.edu/alumni.

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