Anderson enjoying volunteer fish commission post — again

March 4, 2019

Donald Anderson was 8 years old when he started to fish. At the time, his father wasn’t a fisherman, but some family friends were.

His dad ended up buying a fishing license and started taking his son to fish. Anderson would later fish with high school friends, too.

Now, the soon-to-be-65-year-old Summit Township resident is using his knowledge to lead the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s Southwest Regional Office as district four commissioner.

“It’s just really a great opportunity to work with so many fine people,” he said. “That’s been so rewarding to me over the years.”

Anderson has been volunteering with the commission since 1973, having held the titles of deputy waterways conservation officer, boating commissioner at large and district four commissioner. He previously held the district four post in parts of the 1990s and 2000s.

He succeeded Len Lichvar on Oct. 1 and is serving a four-year-term. He is eligible for two additional terms.

District four consists of Somerset, Cambria, Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Fulton, Mifflin and Juniata counties.

“There didn’t need to be too much on-the-job training here,” he said with a laugh about his experience with the commission. “Different ones joked with me — commission people — the reason that I got reappointed was I still had the blue blazer, which was our dress uniform and everything, and the uniform fit.”

He has been married to his wife, Mary Ellen, for 381/2 years. The retired Bedford-Somerset Mental Health/Mental Retardation caseworker is a 1972 graduate of Meyersdale Area High School. The organization has since been renamed Bedford-Somerset Developmental & Behavioral Health Services.

Anderson credited a large portion of his knowledge of fish to his time working as assistant manager at Green Spring Trout Farms in Cumberland County in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“That was a fairly large fish hatchery — commercial fish hatchery,” he said, adding that the hatchery raised about 350,000 trout a year. “That’s where I really learned a lot about fish culture work and rearing fish in a big hatchery system.”

Fish education has also made its way into some Somerset County schools. Anderson said he works with Berlin and Rockwood on programs for students to raise trout and catfish that are later released in area waterways.

He said he hopes to start another program at his alma mater, Meyersdale.

“I think that’s important — being in the schools,” he said. “I think that exposure for our agency to be in the schools is a good thing, something that we want to expand upon if at all possible.”

In his free time, Anderson likes to hunt and fish. Stream fishing for trout, he said, is his preferred method.

He said he likes to fish close to home. The Casselman River is one of his spots.

While serving as district four commissioner, he said he would like to see the department’s funding increase. One way to achieve that, he said, is a possible increase on fishing licenses and trout stamps. He suggested a $5 increase for licenses and $2 to $4 for stamps.

“Just to fund our agency sufficiently,” he said, adding that there hasn’t been a fishing license fee increase for 14 years. “(So) we can provide the services that most of our anglers (have) become accustomed to receiving from us.”

Anderson was recently recognized at a commission region law enforcement meeting for his service. He has more than 45 years volunteering.

“Time wise — seniority wise — I have served the longest now of any of the officers in the southwest region,” he said. “I’m the ‘quote’ old-timer. It’s sort of odd when you think about a group of people, you know, a whole region in the state. You think back from when you went to your first region meeting in 1978 until this year. I’ve seen everybody in that room from all over southwest Pa. change except me.”

Commission communications director Mike Parker said that Anderson “exemplifies the Pennsylvania outdoorsman.”

Parker added that Anderson has a broad background of knowledge that includes law enforcement and various sportsman activities.

He touted Anderson’s volunteer work as a deputy conservation officer and his commitment to educating students.

“He truly represents the anglers and boaters of his district because he’s one of them,” Parker said. “I think the thing about him is if you want to have true representation for your region, you need to find someone who walks the talk.”