Tom Cucinotta became a part of the Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprenticeship Program at SCWA in August of 2020. He has recently accepted a position in Mandeville Island, California as a Waterfowl and Habitat Manager. Tom tells all about his experience at SCWA in the letter below. We wish him the best!
“I first joined SCWA as a naturalist for Camp Leopold 5 years ago shortly after receiving a wildlife management degree from West Virginia University. During my time there, I was introduced to duck hunting by my co-workers. I became addicted. I then spent my first season chasing wood ducks in Hickory Top WMA and guiding hunts for SCWA.
From that point on, I knew that I would work in the world of waterfowl. It took me all over the country to places like North Dakota, Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and New Jersey. I started by conducting waterfowl research for state and non-profit agencies, and after many years of travel and enjoying the journey, I knew that I had to make a transition to make a life long career in the field. I had pondered pursuing a masters degree to become a biologist, and while starting the application process to schools, I remembered the Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program. When I was working for Camp Leopold, I realized everyone that finished the program found incredible positions at various locations. I then knew I needed to go back, and upon reaching out to JP, the Habitat Manager at the time, he asked me ‘how soon can you get here?’ I packed up from Oklahoma and headed back to the place I once called home.
The past 2 years have been some of the most challenging but satisfying times of my life. Learning the ins and outs of running a duck club and manipulating habitats to achieve desired outcomes has been a very rewarding experience. This place can teach you many things, but above all, it taught me that if you have a positive outlook and drive to learn and work hard, great things can happen, and they have. I will be moving on from SCWA with a boat load of memories and many great friends to become the Waterfowl and Habitat Manager in Mandeville Island, California. It is a dream come true, and I am forever grateful to the great people I’ve met here that helped me along the way.” (Tom Cucinotta)