Indiana native takes helm of USSA
Nick Pinizzotto knew he wanted a career in the outdoors as a child.
That’s why it’s fitting that the former Indiana resident was appointed as president and CEO of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, an organization that aims to protect the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers and scientific wildlife management professions, according to its website, and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation.
“The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is the only entity in the United States that defends our hunting, fishing and trapping rights,” Pinizzotto said.
As a child, he said, his parents couldn’t keep him and his brother out of the woods.
“I spent nearly all of my spare time hunting or fishing. I was very lucky to be introduced to hunting and fishing by my dad, and I continue to hunt and fish with him and my brother.”
Since then, the Marion Center Area High School and Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate has held positions in conservation and other outdoor-related government jobs.
“The outdoors has really defined my life,” he said. “Being an avid outdoorsman, I really dedicated myself to it and always wanted a job where I could give back.”
Pinizzotto didn’t just give back through his conservation efforts, the companies he has worked for have received recognition for some of his work. As the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Watershed Conservation’s associate vice president, he received two Western Pennsylvania Environmental awards and a WTAE-TV Earth Friend Award.
“The first environmental award was for our work with grassroots communities and the second was for our Saving Little Mahoning Creek project,” he said. “The Earth Friend Award was also for Little Mahoning Creek.”
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, he explained, is the largest conservancy of its type in the country. With about 200 employees, the Pittsburgh-based organization focuses on water and land conservation, natural heritage and community conservation.
“We conducted stream restoration projects focusing on erosion issues and abandoned mine drainage, and also have a robust agricultural services program,” Pinizzotto said. “We also conducted eastern hellbender salamander, freshwater mussel, macro-invertebrate, and fish surveys and evaluations.”
The Indiana branch of the conservancy, he said, has an in-house laboratory. Locally, he worked on Little Mahoning Creek, Blacklegs Creek, Loyalhanna Creek and the Kiski-Conemaugh River watershed.
“I was very proud to bring such a successful program and a number of good jobs back to Indiana,” he said. “We employed several people from Indiana County and have filled a number of internships with IUP students.”
In addition, Pinizzotto started the Conservation Services Program, “which allowed the organization to provide consulting services to private clients and then reinvest the modest profits into important conservation projects,” he said.
Most recently, he served as CEO of the Delta Waterfowl Foundation in Bismarck, N.D., and Winnipeg, Manitoba. An international nonprofit conservation organization, its mission is to conserve the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting, he explained. He had held this position for a year and a half, he said, when the USSA contacted him.
In addition to his career-related work, Pinizzotto also started a deer-scent business called Apparition Scents. The product is sold in the Greensburg area. In addition, he said, he does outdoor writing, photography and videography, and maintains a blog called WhitetailWriter.com.
With his newest position as USSA and USSAF president and CEO, Pinizzotto is ready to take on the many challenges that the organization faces.
“I fear that a lot of people take those sports for granted, and it’s our job to make sure we don’t let our guard down. At this moment we’re fighting a number of issues across the country, and we can’t do it alone.”
The job requires extensive travel, he explained, stating that in July alone he will have traveled to Nebraska, Ohio, New York, South Carolina, Georgia and California.
“My biggest challenge will be to put our organization on the radar screens of more sportsmen across the country.”
The position required his relocation from North Dakota to Columbus, Ohio. He now resides there with his wife, Angela, who is also an Indiana County native and a Homer-Center High School graduate.
“I feel very blessed to be leading the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance,” he said.
PHOTO: Nick Pinizzotto trained his redtick coonhound, Arrow, to retrieve ducks. Though a non-retrieving breed, Pinizzotto said that Arrow has successfully retrieved several ducks for him. (Submitted photo)