Agents in Action
In a cramped studio at a Columbia radio station, Robyn Raisch adjusts his earphones and checks the clock: 6:07 a.m. His guest reviews the notes spread out before him. Raisch sips steaming coffee from his mug. The radio show host points to him and says, "It's 6:12 and you're on!"
Raisch starts on cue: "Good morning and welcome to the Great Outdoors. I'm Conservation Agent Robyn Raisch and my guest today is Brian Canady, a Conservation Department aquatic services biologist who specializes in pond management."
For the next hour, Raisch and Canady field calls about pond stocking, algae blooms and leaky ponds. They discuss the causes of fish kills, blew holes and fish parasites and offer up information about Conservation Department services.
"I've been doing this show every Saturday morning for the last two years," Raisch says. "It's fun, and it's a great way to get information out to the public." Getting information to the public is just one of Raisch's duties. A conservation agent for the past 16 years, he describes his job as a jack-of-all trades. "From law enforcement to teaching, to public relations work--we do it all."
Equipped with a bachelor's degree in wildlife management and conservation, Raisch entered the agent training class in 1983. His first assignment was in Scotland County. He remained there 11 years before moving to Boone County several years ago. "I switched to Boone because I wanted an urban assignment," he says. "Scotland County is largely rural, and after 11 years I wanted to do something different."
Working in the eighth most populous county in Missouri has several perks for Raisch. He no longer works alone but rather, with agent Jim Schwartz. "It's nice to work with somebody else," Raisch says. "When we are on the road, we usually separate to cover more territory, but we are always in constant contact by radio. If we have a specific problem, we work together to solve it."
After the morning radio show, Raisch parks his blue pickup truck in front of his Columbia office. Schwartz walks in moments later. The two sit down at their desks in the crowded space they share with two forestry and one wildlife technicians.
Raisch pushes the play button on the answering machine. A concerned woman asks what to do about a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest in her backyard. A man inquires about how he can get his pond stocked with fish.