CRAWFORD COUNTY, Mo — A conservation agent has a complex job that goes far beyond enforcing Missouri’s Wildlife Code. It involves a mix of public relations, youth mentoring and occasionally, even traditional law-enforcement.
Each year, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) selects one conservation agent to receive the distinguished Missouri Outstanding Conservation Agent of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was Crawford County Agent Tim Tallent.
Tallent was chosen Missouri Outstanding Conservation Agent of the Year for 2012 out of approximately 200 conservation agents in MDC’s Protection Division throughout the state. His selection was based on nine criteria considered key to effective performance of the job.
“When we looked at all those things, Tim really stood out,” said MDC St. Louis Region Protection Supervisor Chris Morrow. “He’s an outstanding agent. It’s no wonder that he won the state award. He’s one of the best agents in the state... in all facets of the job.”
Tallent has been a conservation agent with MDC since 2000. After graduating from Meadow Heights High School, he went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Agriculture from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. His diverse professional background includes serving as reserve deputy for the Bollinger County Sherriff’s Department, reserve officer for the Cape Girardeau Police Department, Washington County Sherriff’s Deputy and a park ranger with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
But it was long before he acquired these experiences that Tallent was already charting his career path.
“I think if you talk to most agents, the majority of them will say they wanted to do this from a very young age,” said Tallent, who was raised near Patton in Bollinger County.
“Growing up, I loved to hunt and in fish,” Tallent remembered. “I did see a lot of wrong doing, and for those of us who did it right, it was very frustrating.”
He considered the conservation agent’s job as a perfect fit. “I could work in the resource and try to ensure that things were being done right, and also help make sure future generations have the same outdoor opportunities that I had,” he said.
It’s not surprising that Tallent finds catching someone who is damaging natural resources one the most rewarding parts of the job. According to Tallent, successful arrests of poachers, pre-season turkey hunters and deer spotlighters usually require a lot of hard work, long hours in the field and a strong commitment to the job.
Tallent’s law enforcement achievement’s go beyond wildlife violations. He also routinely patrols conservation areas for other criminal activity. He made many misdemeanor and felony drug arrests on MDC areas and river accesses in 2011. In addition, Tallent regularly helps the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Crawford County Sheriff's Department with problems that occur on the float streams during the summer.
A conservation agent is required to do much more than law enforcement duties however. To the citizens they contact, agents are often the only face of MDC, making good public relations skills a top priority.
“He also has very strong community relations programs,” Morrow observed. He noted that despite Crawford County’s relatively modest population, Tallent maintains one of the highest numbers of education programs in the state.
Tallent said he enjoys the opportunities he has to work with the area youth he encounters during his work at community fairs, school presentations, youth hunting clinics and hunter education classes. He views it as an opportunity to pass on Missouri’s hunting, fishing and resource management traditions for the future. He said a lot of today’s conservation agents got their inspiration from agents they knew or met when they were growing up.
As the 2012 award winner, Tallent will travel to Hot Springs, Arkansas this fall to attend the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) annual conference and awards banquet. There, he will compete with other state officer of the year winners for the 2012 SEAFWA Conservation Officer of the Year award.
But perhaps Tallent’s highest commendation comes from his fellow conservation agents. “His job knowledge is great,” said Morrow, “Other agents always routinely ask him his opinions.”
He added, “He’s just a good all-around agent.”
Tallent, 40, lives in Sullivan with his wife and two children. He enjoys spending time camping with his family in Missouri State Parks, as well as bow hunting for deer and turkey.