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John E. Schmidt, State Coordinator, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
West Virginia Field Office
John Schmidt has worked as a biologist for 32 years, and 25 of those were spent with the Service. In his current position Schmidt works with landowners, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations to restore, enhance, and protect fish and wildlife resources through voluntary partnerships.
He specializes in matching needs—the needs to improve fish and wildlife habitat with the needs of others (individuals, agencies, and NGOs) to spend resources on this habitat.
Schmidt grew up outside Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C., and escaped to West Virginia in 1981. He received a bachelor's of science in fisheries management from Virginia Tech and moved on to Tennessee Tech, where he earned a master's of science in biology, focusing his thesis on freshwater mussels.
"I became fascinated with fish and wildlife work after two camping trips to West Virginia as a young boy," Schmidt says. "My current position allows me to assist private landowners with their habitat restoration needs. Many of these landowners are farmers, and we help them install grazing systems that not only restore, enhance, and/or protect fish and wildlife resources and water quality, but, more importantly, help them graze more efficiently with improved their bottom line. This work helps the Service conserve vital habitats for trust species."
For example, the program and its partners are closing in on 1 million feet of fence constructed to restore, enhance, and/or protect fish and wildlife resources in West Virginia.
Schmidt also pays special attention to working with residents and partners to protect a fragile population of mussels. In 1985, while working as a biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, he discovered a population of James spinymussels in a Monroe County stream. Since that time, he has worked to ensure its future.
In his time outside work, Schmidt coaches a local age-group swim team, officiates high school and college swim meets, serves as a voluntary ski patroller, hunts waterfowl with his Chesapeake Bay retrievers, and works as a fly-fishing guide.
August 13, 2014