TWRA Regional Manager John Mayer is retiring after 34 years of public service. Mr. Mayer started with the agency in March of 1984 and has made many contributions to fish and wildlife management. His overarching goals throughout his career were for the betterment of wildlife and fisheries and hunters and anglers across the state.
Mr. Mayer began his career as an assistant biologist. His main duty was to survey streams, ponds and small lakes throughout the 24 counties in the region. Much of the regional fisheries survey work done today was developed through his guidance. He also served as the night creel clerk on Dale Hollow for several years, which was then a popular rainbow trout night fishing location.
Mr. Mayer later became the regional streams biologist where he was influential in the fisheries program including early musky restoration and monitoring efforts. Mayer’s innovation in fish stocking techniques allowed trout to be stocked in the Hiwassee River utilizing a helicopter. Tennessee was one of the first southeastern states to partner with the U.S. Forest Service, utilizing this method of stocking.
Mr. Mayer became the assistant regional manager in 1999. He attended the Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy becoming a commissioned officer and maintained his commission for 15 years. He was promoted to regional manager in 2003 and oversaw regional agency restructuring in 2009. “John’s amazing leadership at this time was critical in helping guide the region towards better, cohesive management,” said wildlife program manager Kirk Miles. Fisheries program manager Mark Thurman said, “Above and beyond any single contribution to the agency, John’s greatest contribution was his leadership.”
Mr. Mayer has made many contributions to wildlife and remained active in professional organizations throughout his career. He was recently awarded the Tennessee Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Mayer was influential changing wild hog management throughout the region utilizing biological data to guide decision making. Furthermore, he was influential in the improvement of many wildlife management areas (WMA) including shortleaf pine restoration, land acquisition and facilities improvements. He took great pride in providing for employee’s needs to best accomplish their tasks. Facilities at Catoosa WMA, Yuchi Refuge and Prentice Cooper WMA were greatly improved under his management. Law enforcement major C.J. Jaynes said, “John utilized tremendous knowledge of the region. He pushed for good work and collaboration. He will be missed.”
When asked what was most enjoyable about his time with the agency, Mr. Mayer said, “I enjoyed being part of a solution when solving wildlife and fisheries issues through the betterment of policy and laws. I was proud to be part of the process to hire and support great employees in the region too. TWRA has topnotch employees dedicated to doing great work. I never worried about productivity because of the passion employees have for the betterment and wellbeing of wildlife resources.”
He looks forward to fishing, gardening and being active in the community during his retirement. He also looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren, sons, daughters-in-law and wife Cynthia. Officials said, "TWRA wishes John happiness in retirement and thanks him for his unfailing efforts, dedication to wildlife resources and serving the state of Tennessee."