Heather Schoeppach

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This month we highlight Chicoan, Heather Schoeppach.  Known to many from her work with animals, Heather took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share a bit about herself and her love of Chico. 

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Heather Schoeppach (that’s pronounced shep-ik.) I live with my husband Matthew Brown in Chico and we share our home with one fish, three dogs, and seven cats – plus the occasional litter of foster kittens. I work as an independent contractor for nonprofits, primarily Butte Humane Society (www.buttehumane.org or facebook.com/buttehumanesociety) and the Mendocino Coast Humane Society (www.mendocinohumane.org or facebook.com/mendocinohumane). 

Helping animal shelter agencies with their outreach and special event planning allows me to combine my passions and community work with paid work, which is pretty much a dream come true. In my free time, besides maintaining our own herd o’ pets I love spending time with family and friends especially my nephew Jaden, going rockhounding, and playing co-ed recreational softball on our team the Hopstars.

What made you choose Chico?

I moved to Chico at age 17 to attend Chico State after winning a President’s Scholarship. That was nearly 20 years ago, so I’ve now lived in Chico over half my life. The scholarship sealed the deal, but from my first visit I knew that Chico was where I wanted to go to school – so warm and sunny, not just in climate but in the friendly demeanor of everyone I met! It really surprised me. Coming from a small town in the mountains I knew it’d be an adjustment living anywhere more populated - and I felt like I could be more at home here, both with the friendly small-town vibe and being surrounded by the enormous oaks and plentiful trees throughout campus.

Plus, I could still go enjoy nature with Bidwell Park to explore nearby.

Heather and her cat, Marley

Heather and her cat, Marley

What makes you want to stay in Chico? 

Like many Chico State graduates, when I moved to Chico I didn’t expect to stay after college. But after graduation, I found myself unable to leave my steady college job and the network of dear friends I’d made. I loved the affordability, the strong presence of art and live music, and for weekend trips I appreciated its location within a few hours of the coast, the Bay Area and three states’ worth of mountains. Later, as my involvement grew with Butte Humane Society, I became dedicated to the cause and its goal of building a much-needed new facility for the organization and for the community. That’s still in the works … and in the last few years my sister moved to Chico and had her son, and I got married, as did many friends – so family and community definitely keep me here.

Tell us, what's your favorite thing about Chico?

My favorite thing about Chico is the “Wooo!”  Now I know not everybody enjoys the “Wooo!” especially if they live in close proximity to the downtown area. I admit there was a time in my life when the ubiquitous “Wooo!” even got on my nerves, but that was more due to our apartment complex’s bona fide resident “Woo Guy” who was a bit overzealous and gave zero deference to time or day. But over the years I’ve come to love the distinctly Chico version of the “Wooo!” because of its eternal ability to rally, to illustrate joy, and to denote its criers as someone who has spent time in Chico. It embodies the casual fun-loving spirit that first drew me to this place. The Chico party “Wooo!” is not a rare beast, it even has its own hashtag, but its appearance in the wild almost always makes me smile.

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What local "gem" would you share with someone who was looking to move to Chico? 

Whenever I meet someone new to Chico, I ask them if they like ice cream. If they say “yes” (nine times out of ten) then I make sure they know about the locally made sweet treats at Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy. I worked at Shubert’s for upwards of five years and during my time there I felt like part of the family. I also developed a bit of a sweet tooth after tasting anything and everything they made – it’s all so delicious!! These days Shubert’s is more well-known and less of a “hidden” gem, but it’s still my favorite Chico spot to introduce to visitors and newcomers.

Any last comments on Chico's "Special-ness?"

So many of my favorite memories and friendships in Chico began because I got out in the community and connected with others on shared interests.  Chico may seem small to someone coming from a big city, and it’s easy to get in a routine and keep your head down, but I see so many opportunities in this area to further explore interests and get involved in the community. My plea to fellow Chicoans is:  Whatever it is that you love about Chico, please be part of it – help it continue so that others may know and love it too. 

Want to be featured in the Choose Chico blog? Send us an email and we'll send you the questions!

 

Amy & Evan Tuchinsky

Amy and Evan Tuchinsky with their foreign exchange student, Bianca.

Amy and Evan Tuchinsky with their foreign exchange student, Bianca.

Amy and Evan are native Californians who, after very different routes, made Chico their home together. 

Amy is a hospital-based pediatrician at Enloe Medical Center. Evan is a communications management consultant and a Planning Commissioner for the City of Chico. We're a 7/7/07 couple -- we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, though our relationship dates to 2005. We met in Southern California, where Amy was completing her medical residency and Evan was a newspaper editor.

Born in Sacramento, Amy moved here as a child, growing up in Chico and Paradise. She left during high school for Ohio, where she went to college and medical school, and completed her residency at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. She was excited for the opportunity to return to her hometown and become a colleague of her own pediatrician, Dr. Pat Tedford, who'd been one of the inspirations for her career choice.

Evan was born and raised in the Los Angeles area; he graduated from Stanford University, then spent 17 years in Riverside as a journalist. Before visiting Chico to meet Amy's family, he'd only been here once, on a college volleyball trip. (He didn't play; he was team manager.) Right after Amy committed to practice here, Evan got hired as editor-in-chief of the Chico News & Review. Three years later, he hung out his consultancy shingle, Idea Cultivators.

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We are committed to our family and community. We do not have our own children, apart from canine kids, but are devoted to our nieces and nephews -- three of whom live in Chico. We have been host parents to two exchange students: Bianca, from Bolivia, who's with us in the photograph above; and Loreen, from Germany, who's shown with Amy. Along with serving on the Planning Commission, Evan is a member of the Chico Noon Rotary Club and the Paradise Post editorial board; Amy serves on the board of Esplanade House Children's Foundation; and we both support local nonprofits, including Catalyst Domestic Violence Services and Butte County Habitat for Humanity.

We have lived in Chico since 2015 in our second go-around, Five years after our initial move, we left so Amy could pursue a professional opportunity in the Mid-South. We found we missed family and friends; meanwhile, Enloe launched a program tailor-made for her abilities and interests. Our return seemed destined. After four years away, we moved back.

The main reason for our return: people. We couldn't bridge the distance with family -- our nieces and nephew, in particular -- with Skype and occasional visits. Evan found he'd made more friends of depth and resonance in the relatively short time here than extended periods elsewhere. Amy, too, had colleagues and friends who'd left a lasting impression. 

Amy with German exchange student, Loreen. 

Amy with German exchange student, Loreen. 

Chico, moreso than other places, seems to attract distinct people and people of distinction. Chicoans are diverse -- in identity, backgrounds and beliefs -- yet coexist and, more often than not, come together to find common ground. There's a sense of community that comes from convergence. 

This is a city that in many ways is still a small town. When we considered moving here the first time, Amy wondered if Chico might be too provincial for Evan, since he'd always lived in large metro areas. Quite the contrary, it's the perfect size. We venture to Sacramento primarily to catch a flight (though that could change should the Chico Airport regain a carrier). We find the services and amenities we need here; there's medical care, shopping, dining, arts ...

Amy, with camping and backpacking in her blood, loves the beauty of the outdoors, so it's not surprising that Bidwell Park is her favorite thing about Chico. Evan, having eaten out frequently since early childhood, will mention a restaurant first: Grana, for instance, or Big Tuna Sushi Bistro. The "hidden gem" here truly is the richness that special people bring to Chico through their work, community service and special events. The CN&R is a great way to learn about them -- or, just say hello to someone, and you're bound to encounter one. 

Jan Burnham

Jan Burnham

Jan Burnham

I’m Jan Burnham (aka Jan Sellers) and I was born and raised here in Chico, CA.  After working for CSU Chico for 30 years, I retired in 2012 and now spend my time walking our two dogs, helping family and friends and participating in a variety of volunteer, community and personal development activities.  A few I am involved in include the Butte Rose Society, Butte Habitat for Humanity and Basenji Dog Rescue and Transport.

What do you do during your free time?

I am active in the community by volunteering in my grandson Finn’s classroom and spending time with our son’s family who lives here in Chico. Our other son’s family lives in Lodi including their 3 ½ year old twins!  I provide assistance and companionship to my 89-year-old mother, enjoy lunch dates with friends, volunteering and supporting the Butte Rose Society as President, Habitat for Humanity of Butte County (former Board member and President, committee member for our 25 year anniversary), the Basenji Rescue and Transport and participating in OLLI classes.  

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As a family, we have recently become interested in financially supporting the Caper Acres renovation and have focused on the cheese renovation, being labeled as the “Cheese Family” in local media.

You were born and raised here in Chico. Have you ever moved away?

I left a few times while in college and for a year more recently due to a job opportunity. We returned as it is “home” and the place I can find support when needed. It’s close to my family, which is very important to me. And, of course, Chico is a great place to live!

What makes you want to stay in Chico?

First, Chico is my hometown and I’m proud of it. My husband and I were both very fortunate to be able to find meaningful employment at California State University, Chico which allowed us to remain in Chico, raise our family here, remain close to other family members who live in the Chico area, and to develop long-lasting relationships. If only it weren’t so darn hot in the summer!

Your favorite thing about Chico?

Hands down, Bidwell Park. I walk our dogs almost daily in lower park and bicycle through it on my way downtown or other destinations. I loved swimming in the creek and now it is a favorite activity of our grandchildren. It is a true treasure and every day when I walk in it, I thank Annie Bidwell and marvel at its beauty.  

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Downtown is cool too, and we have several favorite shops and restaurants.

What "local gem" would you share with someone new to Chico?

It’s a friendly city, with lots to offer young families as well as mature adults.  My favorites things are Bidwell Park, including Caper Acres, the creek, walks in upper park –especially in the Spring. Walking on the dirt paths along Vallombrosa or Creekside. Longtime businesses Colliers Hardware and Northern Star Mills are community treasures. I remember going to Collier’s with my father as a young girl. The proximity to Lassen Park – a gem in and of itself.

 

Jolene Francis - Director of Advancement/Communication Enloe Medical Center

"Chico is my hometown…literally. My sisters and I were all born at Enloe and Chico will always be part of who I am.

Chico is a place where folks invite you to cut in front of them at the grocery store when you have fewer items in your basket. A place where you can escape the pressures of everyday life by slipping into Bidwell Park for a few hours of peace, or listening to the train roll through town when the breeze is right.

There’s vibrancy here that’s hard to pinpoint. The University adds to that vibe, so does the downtown and the growing tech community. Chico is a place where you actually know the guy that built your house, the CEO of your local bank lives across the street and your kid’s high school principal is in your Rotary Club. But for all its small-town goodness, there is a definite metropolitan flair…in museums, local theater, music, and of course, the best brewery in the nation. The economy of agriculture keeps us grounded and talented entrepreneurs teach us to soar. I dare you to not love this place." 

Pat Kemeny Macias - President, MONCA

Pat-Macias-MONCA

I am Pat Kemeny Macias, the current President of the Board of the Museum of Northern California Art (monca). My days are filled with details and more details concerned with opening Chico’s first art museum.  Sometimes the “work” happens before I get out of bed . . . contemplating the unknown! As far as free time goes, there is not currently a lot of that but my energy and enjoyment that goes into making connections and telling the museum story. I am fortunate to have a husband just as passionate about this project as I am.

I am in Chico with my husband due to retirement in the Bay Area plus finding a less stressful but still cultural place to plant our roots for the final time. I was raised in Michigan, received my Bachelor’s degree in Art Education and a Master’s degree in Printmaking from Eastern Michigan University. For eighteen years, I taught art in the Ann Arbor public schools and was the Director of one of the Summer Art Fairs for seven years. Next, it was a move to St. Louis, MO becoming Education Director at Laumeier Sculpture Park before returning to teaching. A move to San Francisco led me to teach once again this time at Piedmont High School for thirteen years, retiring in 2006 before the move to Chico.

Why did we choose Chico? It reminded me a lot of Ann Arbor . . . a university filled with cultural events, approximately the same size town, a Farmer’s Market, a thriving arts community and it was affordable! The fun of seeing familiar faces around town; smiling and friendly people; people who CARE; and a supportive community that is embracing diversity more and more are what drew me here and keeps me here. The weather is also a plus!

Christa Melton - Unlock Home & Lifetime Resident

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Hello! I'm Christa Melton and I’m a happy Chico local who cherishes this community with all my heart. Born and raised in Chico, I graduated from Pleasant Valley High School and Chico State University. Growing up in Chico was a magical experience. Hiking Monkey Face in upper Bidwell Park, swimming in One Mile, and riding my bike to school were some of my favorite childhood memories. I loved my childhood so much, I decided to raise my family in our tree-lined community.

As many locals do, I left our cozy town to broaden my horizons. I traveled to many parts of the world and nestled into a few different communities. When it came to finally deciding the quality of life I desired, it was time to move back to Chico. Moving back was the best decision I have ever made. I realized how much I missed our amazing park. I bought a house right alongside the park so my kids could enjoy skipping rocks in the creek and riding their bikes to their friends. I especially love my daily walks, it's a great way to start your day and energize the soul.

Chico is thriving with opportunity. We own two different businesses in our community. Melton Design Group Inc., a Landscape Architecture Firm, ran by my husband Greg Melton. My business venture, Unlock Home, inspires people to unlock the happy in their homes. I'm passionate to honor the happiness every community deserves and work to cultivate it through its citizenry.

Chico is an inspiration to have a lifestyle that is still simple, safe and full of opportunity. The hometown feel remains the same, and now we have the luxury of a thriving community full of culture and excitement.  

Hunter Hampton - General Manager, Chico Heat Baseball

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My name is Hunter Hampton and I am the General Manager of the Chico Heat. I spend my days immersed in our community. I connect with business owners, season ticket holders, sponsors, and all-around baseball fans. We talk about any and everything baseball. Some want to talk about their favorite Major League Baseball team (mine is the Houston Astros). Some prefer to debate which players deserve to be in the MLB Hall-of-Fame. Mostly we talk Chico Heat baseball. Chico has a long baseball tradition. Many Chicoan’s have fond memories of warm summer nights cheering their team on at Nettleton stadium.

When I’m not “working,” I'm with my wife and kids. We’re often out at the swimming pool or softball fields watching my daughter swim or play softball for Chico High. You'll often find us in the gymnasium or DeGarmo Park watching my son play basketball for Bidwell Jr High or Lacrosse for the Chico Rebels.

Why did I choose Chico?  I chose Chico twice! The first time was in 1990 when I chose to transfer to Chico State from the University of Arkansas. After moving here and getting my degree in Information and Communication studies, I fell in love with the area. I loved the climate, I loved that we were close to the bay area to watch the A’s and the Giants, and I loved that we're close to both Tahoe and Napa. I remained here for close to 20 years until I felt the allure of my hometown calling. I moved back to Houston where I could get my fix on Astros baseball and went to work for a television station in a top 10 media market. After a few years, the shine wore off and the Houston humidity, traffic, and crime drove me back to Chico for the second go around!

Even though I was not born or raised here, I still consider Chico my home as I have been here collectively more than 25 years of my life. Chico’s quality of life is second to none and is a great place to raise a family.

I’d say my favorite thing about Chico is the people. Chico is small enough to get to know members of the community on a first name basis and large enough to have a baseball team! 
 

Katie Simmons - Chico Chamber of Commerce

"In 2007, as an international convention director based in Berkeley with long commutes and regular air travel, I found opportunities to visit my parents in Chico after they relocated from the bay area. Weekends in Chico led to exploring Bidwell Park, the bike paths, and a slower pace of life. Eventually, I made the decision to move to Chico and my career path ultimately led me to the Chico Chamber of Commerce where I am now President & CEO. I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made all those years ago to work and live in the same town - a rarity in the bay area.

I take long bike rides on weekends, enjoy the parks with my family, and shop and dine locally. I found home when I found Chico, and I found my purpose in the space and time this lifestyle affords. This place has shown me what community means and I can’t imagine living anywhere else." -Katie Simmons, President & CEO at Chico Chamber of Commerce

Prem Chand, Milestone Technologies

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"I was raised on a farm in a small town just outside of Chico, where I developed an appreciation for the passion and work ethic held by the people in our community. Though I left Chico and eventually founded Milestone Technologies, Inc in the Bay Area, I never forgot the sense of hope, motivation, and connectivity I felt in the Chico community.

When Milestone was challenged to open a new contact center, I knew immediately that Chico was the ideal place for our business to grow. The quality of life in Chico is unmatched, and the people boast an unrivaled drive to succeed. I chose Chico to give back—because the city’s bright, young minds deserve fulfilling economic opportunities without having to leave their own backyard. Together, we can continue to make Chico great."

-Prem Chand, President & CEO of Milestone Technologies Inc.

Kendall Gaumann, Student CSU Chico

"I transferred to CSU, Chico January 2014 and am completing my final semester. I chose Chico because I come from a small town in the Bay Area and I loved the strong sense of community Chico radiated. Because Chico is such a small community you can definitely feel the neighborly love. Everyone is so welcoming that you will never be alone."I transferred to CSU, Chico January 2014 and am completing my final semester. I chose Chico because I come from a small town in the Bay Area and I loved the strong sense of community Chico radiated. Because Chico is such a small community you can definitely feel the neighborly love. Everyone is so welcoming that you will never be alone.

My favorite thing about Chico is the diversity of activities it provides. You can take a stroll in the park, swim in the swimming holes, hike to breathtaking vistas, listen to live music Downtown Chico, or snack at some of the yummiest hole-in-the-wall restaurants. The best advice I can give is to be open to the beauty Chico has to offer, it will not let you down. My most memorable experience is hiking to the top of Monkey Face to watch the sunset. Chico has become my home and I do not want to leave. I can tune the beat of my heart to this place." -Kendall Gaumann, California State University, Chico

Aaron Rogers: Roots in Chico

Aaron Rogers - Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rogers - Green Bay Packers

Popular NFL quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, was born right here in Chico where he began playing football for Pleasant Valley High School as the starting quarterback. Rodgers then played for Butte Community College where he received an athletic scholarship to attend and play for UC Berkeley. Rodgers now plays for the Green Bay Packers and gets a hearty hometown welcome whenever he comes to visit. GO PACKERS!