The Pine NeedleMore posts

So What's It Like To Be An Agent?

Feb 21, 2013

One of the jobs of Outreach and Education is to help young people figure out if a career in a conservation field is right for them. We have often heard “I’d like to be an agent ‘cause I like to hunt and fish.” While I am very pleased that these activities are important to the young person, it does not mean a career as an agent is a good fit for them. Think about it for a second, what is an agent doing during the opening day of trout season? Opening day of turkey season? The hunting the agents are doing on opening day is often limited to hunting someone who, as Shannon County Agent Justin Emery puts it, “made a bad choice.”

What it takes to be a conservation crimefighter

Each year, Carter County Agent David Baldridge teams up with Agent Emery to help local young conservationists understand what is involved in their job and how to prepare for a job as an agent. Agent Emery and Baldridge both emphasize the importance of volunteer work to prepare. Riding along with an agent is a great way to get experience. Physical fitness, a college degree with law enforcement and biology is also a must.

The right tool for the job

Agents brought in some of the equipment they carry with them and use including some low-tech and high-tech items such as a first aid kits with bandages and a smart phone with an app to help them locate lost hikers and look up records. Both agents explained that you needed to have all of this equipment with you at all times and that no matter how carefully you plan your day, it can completely change with one phone call. One minute you are on a routine patrol on the river and the next you get a call from Operation Game Thief and you are on your way to check out a suspected poacher.

Now you try

Staff at Twin Pines Conservation Education Center set up stations to let participants get a feel for some of the many tasks that agents are charged with to solve crimes. From fingerprinting, to making plaster casts of footprints and extracting DNA, young and old alike got a better idea of some of the techniques used and it isn’t really like what you see on TV. Think a rewarding career as a conservation agent might be for you? Check out the Related Information section below or visit with your county conservation agent.

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Agents Emery and Baldridge help area youth understand their job as an agent
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Agents Emery and Baldridge help area youth understand their job as an agent.

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Area families try their hand at skills required of agents.
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DNA can be extracted from living material and is can be as important in solving crimes against wildlife as it is for police and highway patrol.

Comments

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Spot on with this write-up.

I have always looked up to conservation agents and always thought that they had my dream job. My grandpa always wanted me to be an agent when I was growing up too. I think it would be great for me as much as I know about and enjoy nature.From what I have read online though it's tough to get in. I think I read tgat only 15 internships are available each year and without one It's impossible to get in. Is that true? I've also read that once one gets in they don't make very much money, even after years of service. Under $30,000 a year. Is that true? I would love to get away from carpentry someday, at least as a career, but it sounds like being an agent would mean taking a pretty bad pay cut. Especially once the cost of college classes are figured in. Please let me know any information that you can share regarding this. I'm very interested. Thank you. Daniel Boyer

Thanks for the comment Daniel.  Being an agent is pretty big honor.  Like all state employees, our salary is listed on-line so you can check that out.  You will need the college degree and that is certainly an investment in time and money.  An internship isn't a requirement but some volunteer time will certainly prepare you for the interview process. Being an agent, or any employee for MDC isn't something we do for the money, we do it for the love of the job.  It is the pride, sense of accomplishment and knowing we make a difference that keeps us going.  Good luck as you work through your options and thanks for considering a career with MDC. 

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