The Wonder Of Woods And Waters

The Wonder Of Woods And Waters

Tyler’s Dream

Becoming A Conservation Officer

“SC DNR Adopts A Lowcountry Teen.” The headline seemed odd. Like something the SC Department of Social Services would do. I clicked the URL and a WSAV-TV video played. The moment I saw the young man, I knew he had suffered mightily. His scars looked just like mine. As a child I received third-degree burns upon my chest and neck.

As the video rolled, a lump rose into my throat. A comment jumped out at me. “I’ve never had anything like this happen to me and I’ve tried so hard,” said 18-year-old Tyler Hancock. Young as he is, in a time when some teens aimlessly waste time, giving no thought to adulthood, Tyler had a vision. A dream.

Tired of 2020’s dismal news and strife? Well, here’s a story with a happy ending. It began when Tyler entered DNR’s Adopt A Senior scholarship program. A senior at Beaufort’s Battery Creek High School, Tyler had long wanted to become a conservation officer. You could say he felt a calling, a mission. Once known as game wardens, conservation officers safeguard our wildlife and natural resources. That’s what Tyler Hancock wants to do, protect our wildlife and natural resources. It’s a noble calling.

Tyler’s vision of what he wanted to do led him to apply for a scholarship and that led to a day he’ll never forget. On an early June day, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources vehicles, lights flashing and sirens wailing, entered Battery Creek High School’s parking lot. Tyler stood there, waiting. As logoed black trucks pulled in, the moment brought tears to Tyler. He wiped them away with the back of his right hand.

“This was all a really big surprise. I’ve never had something like this happen before,” said Tyler. “I tried so hard just to make it through and get through high school and do what I want to do. Now I finally get to.”

Tyler’s essay about wanting to become a game warden was part of his scholarship application. As the officers congratulated him, they gave him things a kid needs when starting college. Books, a computer, refrigerator. Pillows even. They also gave him a new rod and reel, and the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund gave him a lifetime hunting and fishing license. Something more would help make this day memorable, a pair of $500 scholarship checks, one from SC DNR and one from the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund.

It’s a good day when a deserving person catches a break. Some bad cards have been dealt to this young man. As a foster child, Tyler suffered terrible burns. “Look at me. I’m burned over 48 percent of my body. I was told I couldn’t join the military and I couldn’t do a lot.”

Well, a new day has dawned, and Tyler’s one step closer to achieving his dreams of becoming a DNR officer. A lot of hard work, a lot of studying, training, and more wait down the road, but that road leads somewhere, a future in wildlife management. Like legendary game wardens of the past, Tyler hopes to uphold game and fish laws, and someday he may inspire another youth to walk in his shoes.

The SC DNR and Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund scholarships will help Tyler attend Horry Georgetown Technical College this fall where he’ll major in Forestry and Wildlife Management, a good background for a conservation officer.

Over the last few years Tyler Hancock found a home with the DNR’s youth program. He came to know some of the conservation officers. As the men taught him to survive, he decided to be a game warden for the department. In this era of habitat loss, it’s more important than ever to educate people to the value of our natural resources. We need more Tyler Hancocks, and so do DNR and the Hampton Fund.

SC DNR’s vision is one of enhancing the quality of life for present and future generations through improved understanding, wise use, and safe enjoyment of healthy, diverse, sustainable and accessible natural resources. As well it seeks to be a trusted and respected leader in natural resources protection and management by consistently making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

The Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund continues Harry Hampton’s mission of making wildlife’s preservation important to every man, woman, and child in South Carolina. Down the road, Tyler Hancock will help both DNR and the HHWF Tyler uphold their important missions.

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