Chipego takes on WCO role

BY KEVIN WOODRUFF

Matthew Chipego of Noxen started two weeks ago as Susquehanna County’s newest Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer, taking his passion for the outdoors and turning it into a career.

Chipego, 31, is in charge of the southern portion of Susquehanna County, starting at the Western end at Auburn Township and moving across to Clifford Township in the east.

He got his start on the path to becoming a WCO last year when he saw an ad looking for the 28th class of officers.

“My wife was looking on the computer and saw that the Game Commission was looking for its 28th class of officers,” Chipego said. “So I signed up to take the civil service test, and went from there.”

He then enrolled in the Game Commission’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation in Harrisburg, and graduated on Mar. 5.

He took over as WCO on Mar. 9, and said things have been going good so far.

“It’s been good,” Chipego said. “I’ve just been settling in and learning the area.”

Chipego said that in his capacity as WCO he hopes to make the public more informed of wildlife issues.

“I’ve always been involved in hunting and fishing since I was a kid,” Chipego said. “And I think the biggest thing for people is education. I hope to give people as much information as I can so that they know what affect their actions have on the environment.”

Prior to working as a WCO, Chipego was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and then worked as a construction worker.

He said that serving as a Marine has helped him through the training for being a WCO.

“From a physical fitness and discipline standpoint it was very helpful,” Chipego said.

While he was being trained, Chipego said that the Leffler School stressed outreach, public relations and education.

“A big part of my job is to inform people of the best ways to deal with wildlife,” Chipego said.

Chipego noted that another large aspect of the job is law enforcement.

And coming from a military background, he said that’s something that interests him.

“I’m excited about the law enforcement side of things,” Chipego said. “And also working with wildlife.”

His passion for wildlife comes from him childhood, when he started as a hunter in the woods near Lehman where he grew up.

“I started hunting for white tailed deer, but moved on the black bear and wild turkey as I got older,” Chipego said. “And I favor archery hunting these days over traditional rifle hunting.”

Chipego said that so far, there have been challenges to the job, mainly in trying to juggle a lot of tasks at once.

“It’s all about prioritizing and scheduling everything,” Chipego said. “Especially when you’re working out of a home office.”

Chipego is Matt and his wife Nicole, whom he’s been married to for 13 years, are the proud parents of their daughter, Hannah.