By Matt de Simone
Jon Cooper was recently appointed to the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) board of directors by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
Cooper manages his family’s 10,000-acre recreational property in Botetourt County and is passionate about habitat management. He’s a life member of the Virginia Deer Hunters Association and the National Rifle Association.
“It’s an honor to represent Botetourt and the DWR in a board member capacity to ensure the future of our great hunting, fishing, and outdoor heritage,” Cooper stated in a recent interview.
Cooper has a dedication to improving wildlife and wildland. He plans to be actively engaged in conserving and managing both for the betterment of the resource and everybody’s ability to pursue and enjoy the resource.
According to Cooper, when he was initially approached about the appointment, he didn’t express much interest, stating that “politics aren’t really my thing.” Then, after watching nightly news coverage and observing what was happening worldwide, Cooper had second thoughts.
As a father of three, Cooper thought about how this appointment could positively impact not only his family and Botetourt but the state and the country as a whole. He mentioned that his “lane” has always been wildlife and wildland since childhood. He wants to remain in his lane but understands being a DWR board member will be positive in helping outdoor businesses, hunting, and landowners to see the benefits of high-quality native habitat in a heavily forested, poor-soiled region.
“Earlier this spring, when I was originally asked to interview for the appointment, I told that person that it was not about me. It’s never about me. This [appointment] isn’t me trying to make a name for myself. This is about the future of our hunting heritage. It’s about representing certainly those in Botetourt County and our state… I’ve accomplished everything professionally and personally that I ever set out to do, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to represent outdoors men and women.”
Cooper is originally from Big Stone Gap. His late father, Tom, along with his uncle, Jerry, were co-owners of a coal mining operation. In the ’80s, Cooper’s family began buying hunting/recreational property in northern Botetourt. Cooper and his brother continue to manage the land, conducting habitat improvement projects like timber and fire operations that actively manage Botetourt’s two most significant renewable resources: whitetail deer and wild turkeys.
“As long as I can remember, hunting and enjoying God’s creation is something that helped shape and molded me into the person I am,” Cooper added. “My late father wasn’t a big hunter and outdoorsman. He was a golfer. At the end of the day, he [supported my engagement in the outdoors], and I’m unbelievably grateful for my family’s time and leadership in doing so.
“I’m looking forward to engaging with landowners, managers, biologists, wildlands, and wildlife specifically to ensure the future of our outdoor heritage.”
Cooper co-founded Saturday Football, Inc., which produces digital content for college football fans. He is currently the Director of Content and Audience at College Sports of XL Media, Inc., which acquired Saturday Football, Inc. in 2021.
To learn more about the DWR, visit dwr.virginia.gov.