HARRISBURG – With 35 years of service to the Commonwealth’s wildlife and hunters and trappers, Pennsylvania Game Commission Deputy Executive Director Michael W. Schmit will retire April 16, and, according to the agency’s current director, leave enormous shoes to fill.
“You cannot replace a ‘Mike Schmit,’” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “His knowledge and experience in the Game Commission are unequalled. He is the most dedicated and devoted person to the Game Commission’s mission, and I will certainly miss his wise council and advice.”
As his service to the agency draws to a close, Schmit noted that his service to the agency is the culmination of a career choice made early in life.
“Working for the Game Commission has been a lifelong ambition,” Schmit said. “I was 14 years old when I set my sights on a career with the Game Commission. It is hard to believe 35 years can go by so fast. Strictly from a personal involvement standpoint, I’ll always look back fondly at the years in the mid-1980s when we were bringing about 12 eaglets back each year from the wilds of Saskatchewan.
“It was an honor to be part of the team that traveled to the northern reaches of Saskatchewan to remove young eagles from their natural nests and return them to man-made nests in Pennsylvania. The hypothesis was that these birds would acclimate to Pennsylvania as their home and would return here years later to nest on their own. Bald eagle nesting has improved from three in 1983, to more than 160 bald eagle nests today.”
Schmit began serving the agency when he joined the 16th Class of the Ross Leffler School of Conservation in 1975. Upon gradation, he was commissioned a Game Protector, now called Wildlife Conservation Officer, and was assigned to a district in Berks County.
In 1982, Schmit was promoted to the position of Information and Education Supervisor in the agency’s Southeast Region, headquartered in Reading. During Schmit’s career, he served as Wildlife Region Director for both the Northwest and the Southeast regions. In 1994, he was promoted to the Harrisburg Office to serve as Director of the Bureau of Administrative Services, and was promoted, in 1995, to his current position as Deputy Executive Director, a position he has held for the past 15 years.
When asked what, if anything, stands out as a highlight of his career Schmit points out the bald eagle recovery program.
A native of Washington State, Schmit graduated from Blue Mountain High School in Schuylkill County, and attended Brown University before enrolling in the Game Commission’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation, which is the agency’s officer training academy.
Schmit resides in Berks County, with his wife, Sandy. They have three children: Steve (Watsontown, PA), Jeff (Ridley Park, PA) and Lisa (Halethorpe, Md.); and two granddaughters: Molly and Brooke.