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.
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.
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.
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