Exploring a Career as a Wildlife Conservation Officer – Part 1

This blog post is the first of a three part series, written by Luke, a three year veteran of the Academy attending PA Bucktails as a student and Assistant Team Leader and PA Drummers as an Assistant Team Leader.  He was asked to write a paper about a potential career choice, and decided to explore the aspects of being a Wildlife Conservation Officer.


Luke leading his team at PA Drummers.
Luke leading his team at PA Drummers.

As a young child I was growing up as a follower of my dad and his passion for the outdoors. He would always take me fishing and I could not wait until the next time my dad took me out. I learned the true meaning of conservation and how to make it work. I was taught to never leave a trace in the outdoors. As I rose through the ranks of cub scouts I found myself fully fledged and followed my love for the outdoors and went into the boy scouts, which culminated in the rank of Eagle Scout. My scoutmaster always made us do a police line to clean up a campsite once the trip was over. One Boy Scout trip that I remember in particular is when we went to Mammoth Park and we stocked trout. That is when I realized that I would really enjoy a career in conservation. The moment when I was handed bucket and helped a younger scout release the trout was quite eye opening and very enjoyable.

In the summer of 2012 I attended my first year at the Pennsylvania Wildlife Leadership Academy and got to talk to many impressive adults that are wildlife professionals. I decided on becoming a Wildlife Conservation Officer after I talked to a few that were talking to us at the academy. In March I was lucky enough to go to the Penn State deer pens on main campus and tour the facility. The students that were talking to us asked us what the disease was in a picture of a deer. I remembered back to the necropsy we did back at the Academy and I answered the question as tuberculosis and was correct. I realized that I knew so much about deer and how they exist and what they do to be able to show my potential in a career dealing with the people who hunt them or research them. To go back to the Academy I had to do a daunting task of speaking in front of others about my experience and teaching the public. After I did a few outreaches I noticed that it wasn’t an issue to speak anymore and I gained a lot of points that I needed if I wanted to go back to the Academy. In 2013 I found myself at that camp again as an assistant team leader ready to help others and also talk to others about my career.

Once again I was with the Wildlife Conservation Officers and immediately knew that I wanted this job. I love the outdoors so I figured that this job would be perfect since it is all about the outdoors.

Through this project I would like to learn the details of how a Wildlife Conservation Officer goes about day to day jobs and tasks. Also, I would like to know the rules of the outdoors and what kind of authority they carry. I would like to know the average salary and if it is enough money to support a nice lifestyle. Additionally, I would like to know where and how long to go to college. I expect to learn all of these answers by completing this project.

I will focus my research on the day to day tasks of a Wildlife Conservation Officer and how they complete each of those tasks. I will also research which colleges I should apply to and how long I have to attend the college. Plus, I will find out whether or not there is additional schooling after the college. My research questions are is there jobs out there in PA or do I have to move? If I have to move where do I have to move to? Is there anyone that is willing to talk to me about this? Is there anyone willing to be interviewed for this project? My final question is, is the career the correct one for my future?