"I am proud to say I am Alaskan born and raised. I was 12 years old when first introduced to a federal law enforcement officer. I was living out on the trap line with my family for part of a winter when during that time a game warden with the USFWS flew in and spent time with my father on his trap line. That positive experience was very influential years later while contemplating career choices, driving me to pursue a career in law enforcement. After 20 years in government service I now work as a Federal Wildlife Officer for the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge (AK) which borders my home town of Fort Yukon. During my patrols and interactions among the people of the Yukon Flats, I am always looking for a person from the younger generation to take over one day."
Veterans Day reminds us of the incredible service our soldiers provide. Not only do they fight for us on the battlefield and in the military, they also go on to do wonderful work in other areas, such as America’s national wildlife refuges. There are 1400 veterans working in the National Wildlife Refuge System and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), that’s almost 16% of the Service workforce.
Law Enforcement Officer Jason Greff is one such employee. Stationed at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, Greff served in the United States Air Force for 11 years, completing three tours in Iraq. He decided it was time to leave the military to be closer to his family and be able to see them on a daily basis.
Finding A Career in the Outdoors
Greff began to look for work elsewhere. He knew he loved the outdoors, and he had a law enforcement background through the military. It was his late father-in-law who suggested he look into becoming a wildlife law enforcement officer, and it was a perfect fit.
Greff began his job search with the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies within the Department of the Interior, but fell in love with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their mission to conserve wildlife. It was a challenge to get hired since the Service has such a small number of law enforcement positions, but his dedication paid off when he got the job at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge.
Title: Federal Wildlife Officer
Duty Station: Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK
Female Conservation Hero or Mentor: I consider myself, both. We are a voice for the fish & wildlife resources, and we are also given opportunities as mentors everyday to spark a passion for conservation, both in current and future generations.
Where did you go to school or military branch: I attended Delaware Valley College of Science & Agriculture in Doylestown, PA.
What did you study? Agricultural Business
How did you get interested in conservation? Getting outdoors with my dad at a young age, and enjoying the waterfowl and white tailed deer where I grew up. Watching and learning a species unique characteristics.
What’s your favorite species and why? I have to say that getting a glimpse of a bear while out in the back country is a favorite. They represent the wildness of Alaska, their sheer strength, and ability to coexist with people, and the impressive tracks they leave behind. (And waterfowl, in particular, Izembek Refuge, and the epic numbers of brant and geese, along with the occasional brown bear sighting make this place paradise.)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fueled by the dedicated employees that make conservation happen on the ground. Samantha Fleming, a Federal Wildlife Officer at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland was recently recognized as the 2014 Northeast Region Refuge Officer of the Year for her outstanding law enforcement service and for her wiliness to lead projects that extend beyond her duties.
Patuxent Research Refuge is located within the Baltimore-Washington Corridor, an area home to nine million people. “Patuxent is challenging because it is an urban refuge,” Fleming says. “We are 20 minutes from D.C. and 20 minutes from Baltimore, so we get an influx of people.”
With approximately 200,000 people visiting the refuge annually, visitor safety is one of Samantha’s top priorities. As a Federal Wildlife Officer, Samantha is the face of the Service to the visiting public. “It’s important to have relationships with visitors,” she says. “The better you know them, the better they feel about the Refuge, the safer they feel on the Refuge.”
In 2014, Samantha handled 1, 416 field contacts, worked on several high profile cases, developed partnerships with law enforcement agencies in the area, and often acted as the first responder when incidents occurred near the Refuge. In addition to her exceptional performance as a Federal Wildlife Officer, Samantha took on many of the roles and responsibilities of the Deputy Refuge Manager when the Refuge had a need. She also works as an active member of the Service Honor Guard, a team of National Wildlife Refuge System Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers who represent the Department of the Interior and the Service at ceremonial events.