Reprinted with permission from Potter County News
By Molly McRoberts
A passion for hunting and the outdoors led Kendyll Jones to a career as a Wildlife Conservation Officer with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. Last week, she brought that passion to her new job in Potter County.
Jones is not new to the area. She grew up on a large acreage farm west of Harrold, SD, and graduated from Sully Buttes High School in 2014. She continued her education at SDSU, graduating in December of 2017 with a double major in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Natural Resource Law Enforcement with a minor in Criminal Justice.
"Throughout college I had various wildlife related jobs," she said. Jones worked as a Habitat Technician for the SD Game, Fish & Parks in Ft. Pierre for a summer, a Habitat Specialist for Pheasants Forever in Onida for a summer, and a Conservation Officer Intern for SD GF&P for two summers; one in Ft. Pierre and the other in Rapid City. Before graduating from college, she interviewed for a Wildlife Conservation Officer position with the SD GF&P, then started the Law Enforcement Training Academy in March of 2018. "I graduated from LET (Law Enforcement Training Academy) in June of 2018 and spent the next five months in field training throughout the state," she said. "I finished up my field training on Oct. 25 and was sent to Gettysburg to start in my assigned duty station."
As a Wildlife Conservation Officer, Jones has a number of duties and said that no day is ever the same. "One of the things that first comes to people’s minds is that we enforce the laws and regulations regarding hunting, fishing and trapping in South Dakota," she said, adding that many people don’t know that she also has the privilege of teaching HuntSAFE classes and interacting with all age groups at different outdoor events that are put on by the SD GFP. "I also have the opportunity to talk to landowners in the area about signing up land for different access programs GF&P offers. I help survey the wildlife in the area and the GF&P biologists use this data for studies and license allocations." Jones also helps with depredation issues on public and private land and takes care of any sick or injured wildlife calls brought to her attention. She said those are just a few of the important aspects of the job. "There is always something new going on in every area and I am constantly learning new things," she said about looking forward to the challenges in the position.
Her current goal for the office is to become better acquainted with the communities in Potter County and meet everyone she can. "Don’t be afraid to stop by my office or come say hello if you see my pickup around town!" she smiled. "I would be glad to chat."
Jones said that the best thing about her job is the opportunity to meet and talk with people who are passionate about the same things she is. Her work has allowed her to meet game wardens from different states and countries, and she said she loves working with youth to educate them about hunting and the outdoors. She said that her career offers excellent variety. "I am never doing the same thing two days in a row, and every season brings around new things to keep busy with," she said.
When she isn’t working, her free time is often spent enjoying the outdoors. She is an avid pheasant and archery/rifle deer hunter, and said she enjoys spending time with her black Labrador, Reese. She and her fiance, Tyler DeRouchey, live in the Hoven area.
"I knew this career would allow me to learn something new every day," she smiled, adding, "Most importantly, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life."
With pheasant hunting underway and deer hunting on the horizon, Jones said, "I hope everyone stays safe during the upcoming hunting seasons and please don’t be afraid to call me or stop me in town if you have any questions. Stay safe and I will see you out in the field!"
Her office is located in Gettysburg at the SD Department of Transportation building on the west side of town, and she can be contacted on her cell at 605-730-1568.