Beavercreek High School Grad new Ohio Wildlife Officer
by Larry S. Moore
Ryan Shock is a 2005 Beavercreek High School graduate. He was one of the eleven cadets who graduated June 29, 2012 from the Ohio Division of Wildlife Cadet Academy. He is now commissioned as a Wildlife Officer and assigned to Hamilton County. His journey from a youth to a Wildlife Officer started with his family and experiences growing up in Greene County. The journey included an Associate Degree in Law Enforcement Police Science from Sinclair plus serving in the US Army Reserve as an MP including deployments to Afghanistan.
Shock notes, "This is something I've always wanted to do. It is very competitive to get into the Ohio Division of Wildlife so I wasn't sure if I could make it. It was definitely a long-term goal but I realized it would be tough. Luckily the timing and opportunity worked out for me."
Shock comes from an outdoor and shooting sports oriented family. I remember when he was a teenager shooting on the Greene County Fish and Game SCTP youth teams which his father, Dave, coached. He said, "We did about everything outdoors when growing up. My Grandfather showed me the ropes with waterfowl hunting. I really enjoyed days hunting with him. My favorite hunting is, without a doubt, waterfowl. My Uncle has labs and competes in field trials. Dad and another Uncle have English Setter bird dogs. I recently got a two-year old lab so I am getting into the field trials. I've been shooting registered trap targets for several years. I just got a new trap gun and intend to keep shooting. Our family has an all round love and respect for the outdoors."
"Growing up I saw certain activities when we were outdoors. That was a motivation for me to get involved to help protect our resources. If I saw a behavior that wasn't good, I thought perhaps I could help change it. It's nice to work with the kind of outdoor people that you like being around. I want to help people by correcting any problems the community may have with conservation", Shock continued.
Shock explains, "Our class had approximately 700 applicants for the eleven positions. I actually applied for the job while still serving in Afghanistan on my last deployment. The first step was the written test. I was rather anxious waiting and wondering if I passed. It took a couple of weeks to get a response. Then a letter arrived that told me to show up for a physical fitness test. I wasn't worried about that but again it hard was waiting for the next letter. It took about six months to complete the entire process."
Getting adjusted to the routine at the academy wasn't especially difficult. The typical day is up at 5:30am for physical training and breakfast. The mornings and afternoons are devoted to class work. That left the evening to take care of equipment and uniforms plus complete any homework or study assignments. Shock, "Having been through Army basic I knew how to react and what discipline is required. I tried to help others who didn't have that experience. You know what is expected and how things must be done. It's a matter of applying yourself and focusing on the work."
The role of the Wildlife Officer is different than other law enforcement agencies. Shock explains, "We work when the sportsmen and women are outdoors. That's our customer group . You have to be willing to work those hours. It's good to have schedule flexibility to meet that demand. If we just worked a shift, then our customer service would go down. Our customers are people who like to spend time in the outdoors and most are great people. The violators we deal with are a small minority of the people."
"I think the Division picked the right eleven guys. I've lived with them for six months. We know each other well. We were close every day. This forms a bond for us throughout our careers. Three of the new officers are in District 5. We can talk and provide support to each other. All the officers have been very supportive. That's important since there is only one officer in each county. We can always get another experienced perspective on a situation."
Of course adjusting to the real job of the Wildlife Officer is the current challenging facing Shock. He notes, "We had so much information at the academy the instructors said it's like trying to drink from a fire hose. I'm trying to take all that information and get familiar with the Hamilton County area. Hamilton County is a large urban but very diverse county. There are lots of places for great outdoor recreation and hunting opportunities with the rivers and the open areas. Hamilton County may be overlooked by a lot of sportsmen but it is a real gem in terms of outdoor recreational opportunity."
I am confident that given his family background with the love of nature and his training, Shock has all the tools to be become an fine officer. Sportsmen should welcome him, and all the new officers in their counties. These are the best of the best. They are the young men needed to help protect our wildlife resources for the next generation of Ohioans.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.