Jeff Amell, Chair
Born and raised in the Leatherstocking Region of upstate New York, I cut my teeth on both private and public lands hunting and fishing. My favorite is, and was, running dogs after upland game birds. I entered the military and spent most of my tenure serving overseas in Europe and did multiple tours in the Middle East. Traditional hunting opportunities were a little more challenging to come by in those places. Growing up, paying for the opportunity to hunt or fish was not something we thought about. Abroad was the first time I experienced regions of the world with limited or nonexistent public lands/access, an aspect I had taken for granted and fills me with immense pride along with the realization of the significance that our public lands help to define our country’s identity as well as furthering the American persona globally.
After the military and college, I relocated to Northern Virginia in 2009 where I currently reside with my wife and two children. I’ve been able to take advantage of Virginia’s generous hunting seasons in the pursuit of both big and small game. I also like to take DIY hunting and fishing trips each year outside of VA to further fill the freezer and experience the adventure and serenity that our diverse regions have to offer. One of my favorite aspects of the overall process is the processing of the harvest, breaking something down into recognizable and manageable pieces. Coincidentally, I am the cook of the family and tend to favor Belgian or French Country inspired preparations. Despite the preparations and due more than likely to my military background, I have a strong urge to turn everything into a soup/stew or sandwich for quicker consumption.
In addition, I’m also a certified SCUBA diver and as the children have grown, we’ve started to dabble in spelunking.
Garrett Robinson, Vice Chair
Born and raised in southern York County, Pennsylvania, I participated in hunting in fishing throughout the state with my family on both public and private land. To this day the memories of growing up in a family where everyone hunted are some of the best memories I have. After graduating High School, I joined the Marine Corps where I served for 26 years, retiring in 2023 as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. I have one child, a daughter, who is in High School and want to for once give her some stability by not moving. We enjoy the region and I have been fortunate to take advantage of the many opportunities to hunt and fish. Whether it being back in my home state of Pennsylvania or traveling to neighboring states I have been able to enjoy some great adventures over the last few years.
Like myself, many who are uprooted from their homes, find themselves unable to navigate the hunting and fishing world they now find themselves in. I wish I knew a fraction of what I know now when I was a young Marine. This is what drives the passion I have now for helping others access the opportunities that are there for all of us to enjoy. Understanding the opportunities that are available is nothing more than finding access. All of this is what brought me to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in 2018 and later the Armed Forces Initiative in 2020. The BHA community has been one of the biggest influences on me over the last several years as I grow not only as a hunter and angler, but as a conservationist.
Trevor Lawson, Secretary
Trevor Lawson is a Southwest Virginia native with a love of the steep and thick ridges that stretch across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Passion for wild places and foods fruited from a childhood chasing deer, turkeys, and float fishing the river for smallmouth bass. This passion guided a degree in Water Resources, Policy, and Management from Virginia Tech to work directly with policy and natural resources management professionally.
Experiences working with the U.S. Forest Service conducting fieldwork mapping stream and wetlands, provided ample miles of hiking George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. The experience clarified the value of public lands, and led to becoming more involved with BHA. While not running ridges for gobbling turkeys or playing thermals for a mature buck; Trevor is a photographer and Professional Outdoor Media Association member who specializes in capturing the night sky. Traveling to remote dark sky locations across the Mid-Atlantic to photograph the Milky Way.
Trevor aims to facilitate relationship building with members, policy makers, and others to protect and expand what we all love. Public lands in public hands!
Shawn McCardell, Treasurer
Born and raised footsteps from the Chesapeake Bay, I grew up with a fishing pole in one hand and a crabbing trap in the other. Some of my earliest memories are fishing and crabbing off a wooden pier and cruising around the bay in a crab boat. As I grew into a man I also grew into the outdoors, periodically putting down the fishing and crabbing tackle to pick up a shotgun and bow to chase deer and waterfowl. Not everything was rainbows and unicorns though, as my childhood coincided with the moratorium on striped bass fishing and the decline in duck and goose populations along the Atlantic flyway. Growing up with all the public land and water around me yet limited in my pursuits, I started to realize things needed to change. From then on I decided to do everything in my power to leave this place I call home better than I found it. I made a commitment to not only step up and protect our wild lands but also to give back to the next generation. I was blessed with four boys, three of which have grown into fine young men. I spend my free time taking my youngest on hunting and fishing adventures across the U.S. Currently I am the R3 Coordinator for the Capital chapter as well as a certified Maryland State Hunter Education Safety Instructor and a Certified Angling Instructor for the Boy Scouts of America. I am a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and regularly contribute content for brands in the hunting and fishing industry.
Hailing from a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, I quickly became obsessed with all of our regions. I had the Chesapeake Bay as my back yard and within two hours East or West, I could be in either the Appalachian Mountain range or the Delmarva Marsh. My hunting and fishing adventures started locally with my Uncle taking me out for anything Maryland had to offer. Some of my favorite outings were wading nearby rivers for smallmouth bass and sitting in the marsh listening at the wood ducks chatter. I have since then branched out to experience new landscapes and wildlife around the world. Witch has just amplified my thirst for the outdoors. I still live in the same County I grew up in with my Wife and two dogs while working as an I.T. professional for a local Health Center. My whole life I have taken advantage of using our public lands and I feel it is now time for me to give back. That is why when I found Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and saw their mission, I knew I had to get involved with the organization. Our wildlife and land is so amazing; we have to make sure it is here for future generations to come.
Josh Veverka, Field Rep Coordinator
When the season opener of deer season is treated like a holiday—with schools and businesses shut down for the day—as it was when Josh was growing up in rural Northwestern Pennsylvania, it’s no wonder that he was instilled with a passion for hunting from an early age. Political aspirations drew Josh to pursue his undergraduate degree at the American University in Washington, DC, where the hunting, camping and outdoor opportunities were a far cry from the game rich shores of Pymatuning Lake. A lack of opportunity, however, could not deter a lifelong pursuit. Moving from the only frat house at American with a deer head on the wall to the Northern Virginia suburbs did not bring immediate hunting success, but it did bring an introduction into the hunting traditions and public land opportunities of Virginia.
15 years later Josh still works in Northern Virginia as a lobbyist in the real estate industry. The call of the wild, though, could not be silenced, and with his wife and two young boys Josh moved to the Shenandoah Valley. A two-hour commute (each way) is a small price to pay to be able to call the forests, mountains and 1.6 million acres of George Washington and Jefferson National Forests—his backyard. Josh is active in the Boy Scouts of America and is a Virginia Hunter Education instructor.
Born and raised in Virginia Beach Virginia, Chad spent most of his childhood surf fishing and exploring the woods. These formative years had a strong influence on who he would become later in life. As Chad's passion for the outdoors grew he began to seek out new opportunities and decided to set up camp in Maryland. Throughout his life Chad always had a strong interest in public lands and protecting them for future generations. In an effort to help restore local habitat and improve hunter relations with the park system he began volunteering with the Maryland DNR. This experience would eventually put him on the path to becoming a volunteer for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He's looking forward to working on many upcoming BHA projects and teaching his daughter the importance of land preservation and wild places.
Wade Truong is a lifelong Virginian, self-taught chef and hunter. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Garden & Gun. His passion for cooking and sharing food is the foundation of his obsession with the outdoors and the resources they provide. He spends all of his free time hunting, fishing, foraging and exploring the bounty of the land and water. He believes that the more we participate with our environment, the more we understand that we need to protect it.
I didn't grow up hunting or fishing- my love for cooking brought me to a desire for a closer relationship with my food. Being nourished by the land and water around me has given me a deep insight into the place I call home, as well as pushed my boundaries and endurance more than I could have imagined. The relationship I've built with the wild has been the greatest journey of my life, and one I'm excited to share with anyone who wants to participate. Protecting the resources that bring such meaning to my days has become my passion. I'm a former restaurant pro, and am now working in the financial field. I'm also the plant witch, canning queen, editor and webmaster for Elevated Wild.
Isaac Weintz is native to Virginia, growing up in the northern Shenandoah Valley. As a kid, Isaac was steeped in a family tradition of angling and later became a self taught hunter. While attending the University of Virginia, Isaac’s passions for the outdoors and conservation blossomed while exploring the spoils of central Virginia. With a background in politics, Isaac is frequently involved at the policy level with conservation efforts both at the local and national scale. When not working as a commercial real-estate agent in Richmond, Virginia, Isaac is often exploring public lands and waters throughout the Capital Region. It is his belief that life’s greatest spoils exist in our wild places and with that we must do all we can to protect them for generations to come.
Originally from Central Illinois, I grew up with a Forest Preserve Lake 2 miles away. The memories of fishing at the bottom of the spillway with a cane rod imprinted on my soul. My career keeps me moving into different regions. One stop in Abilene, Texas, made me realize why organizations like BHA are so important. It was a 2-hr drive to try to hunt deer and turkey under the shade of Mesquite Tree. I could fish more in Texas than I could hunt, so I joined the TPWD as a Volunteer Angler Education Instructor.
I joined the Capital Region in 2020 when I moved to VA, yet I still hunt public land in Arkansas yearly with the family. Since moving here, I have traveled all over the Capital Region hunting and fishing. Now my travels have led me to Maryland, where I am yet again seeing BHA's work and the vast public places to hunt and fish, even when this area gets a bit too crowded. When I'm on a bad streak, I hike with my Tenkara rod into my spot and hit my bluegill honey hole, so maybe I'll see you around! After the success of Muster in the Mountains 2022, I am excited to see what we can do with the momentum of such an incredible event.