The Pennsylvania Game Commission named former Johnstown resident Matt Hough as its new executive director on Wednesday.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Hough, who had been the agency’s deputy executive director.
“I’m very happy that the commissioners had the confidence in me to put me in there. That’s pretty big to me,” said Hough, whose family resided in Westmont from 1999 to 2010.
“You’ve got eight individuals that are willing to put their support behind you.”
Hough, who has 33 years of service with the Game Commission, officially will assume his duties as executive director on Friday as he succeeds retiring Executive Director Carl Roe.
“No. 1, I want to keep the agency moving in the right direction,” Hough said. “I think under Carl Roe the agency has been moving along. Carl made tremendous strides with the agency and I want to keep moving in that direction. We probably have the best employees in the Commonwealth.
“Everybody is really super dedicated. That’s for every employee. It’s nice to work in an organization like that. I want to make sure we keep everybody moving in the right direction for the wildlife resources.”
Pennsylvania Game Commissioner Timothy Layton of Windber said Hough’s decades of experience and role as a deputy executive director made him a solid fit for the post.
“Matt has been with the Commission for a long time,” Layton said. “He came up through the Southwest Region. We have a lot of confidence that Matt is going to take us into the future until we can find the executive director that’s going to take over in a full-time position. We like Matt. We like what he’s done in the Commission in the past. We look forward to working with him during the January meeting and into the future.”
Hough, 56, said he will retire in “the not-too-distant future,” and the Board of Game Commissioners will be prepared to fill the position at that time.
Until then, Hough has set his goals.
“In the short-term the first thing I want to do is get really caught up on the agency’s financial situation,” he said.
Among his plans are to conduct a full review of the agency’s finances and to strive to maintain the agency’s workforce at a full complement.
Maintaining stability is a priority, he said.
“Matt is a good communicator,” Layton said. “He’s got a very good pulse on the people in the field. He’s got a good vision of what the Board of Commissioners is looking to do in the future. He’s got all the tools that are necessary to work well with all the directors that are part of the commission and to step up and guide them in the right direction.”
Hough said he was drawn to the outdoors at an early age.
“When I was about 12 years old I knew that I wanted to work for the environmental resources,” Hough said. “I was very interested in the outdoors. I wanted to spend my career working with the outdoors, wildlife and plant resources.”
He grew up in Washington County and graduated from Trinity High School in 1975.
After earning a degree at West Virginia University in 1980, Hough entered the Ross Leffler School of Conservation in June 1981 and was part of the program’s 18th graduating class.
He served as a wildlife conservation officer in Washington and Westmoreland counties, and in 1992 began working out of the Game Commission’s Southwest Region office, serving in several positions such as federal aid supervisor, information and education supervisor, law-enforcement supervisor and, eventually, regional director.
“That was a dream come true to have that opportunity,” Hough said. “All 33 years I’ve enjoyed – I won’t say every moment – but I’ll say almost every moment. It’s been a great career. It’s not over yet but it’s been a super career. It’s amazing 33 years have already transpired. They basically flew by.
“I’m anxious to get started,” he added. “I will have a learning curve even though I’ve been down here with Carl for just about four years. I’m looking forward to working with the commissioners and the sportsmen and everybody in the public who enjoys our wildlife resources.”
Hough and his wife, Jodi, reside in Adams County. They have four children: Nathan, Mackenzie, Whitney and Tanner.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.