The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 3, 2014

Jeremiah Clark helps where needed with DNR

FARMINGTON — Officer Jeremiah Clark, 25, hasn’t been with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for long, but he already knows he loves the job.

“We’re constantly doing one thing or another,” Clark said.

The DNR’s main District 1 office is in Farmington in Marion County. The district is huge, covering 12 counties.

“I don’t find myself in Farmington every day. Some weeks, I’m in there every day of the week. Other times, it can be every five days I’m in there,” Clark said. “Because of the nature of the job and how many guys wear our uniform, we’ve got to help out where needed.”

DNR officers do a wide range of things.

“We deal with hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife, and then solid waste violations, and illegal burning,” Clark said. “Those are the main things we deal with on a regular basis.”

Their focus changes with the seasons.

Clark said that he and his partner enjoy when they can go into a situation and find that everything is being done correctly.

“We like it when we go into a camp, and there are 15 people there, and they’re all legal. There are 15 people, there are 15 deer, and there isn’t a violation,” Clark said. “We like going in there and just shaking hands and talking with them. That’s a really good part of the job.

“Everyone thinks that the DNR is just out to write tickets, and we’re just there to ruin your day, but we’re actually there to make sure that everyone is doing it right, so everyone can enjoy it.”

Clark didn’t always want to be an officer with the DNR.

“Believe it or not, before I started doing this, I was a history teacher,” Clark said with a laugh.

He graduated from Fairmont State University with a degree in teaching secondary social studies. He continued to live in Fairmont after graduation.

“I started subbing, and trying to get on, and I just wasn’t able to find anything,” Clark said. “Then my dad, who was a State Trooper for 25 years, said that hey, the State Police are always hiring.”

At first, he didn’t want to take his dad’s suggestion.

“I started looking around for other things I might be more interested in, and I saw that the DNR was hiring, and I said, there we go, that’s what I’m talking about.”

He was hired in November 2011, and started going through the State Police Academy’s 16-week program in January 2012.

In May he graduated and found out where he was assigned: District 1, Farmington office.

“So I never had to get up and change my life around like some guys have had to do,” Clark said. “I lucked out.”

Because Clark had training as a teacher, he said he’s been more involved in the classes the DNR offers, like hunting and boating. Mostly certified volunteers teach the courses, with DNR officers helping out.

“The volunteers open up our schedules to where we can do more with the hunting, fishing, trapping and solid waste,” Clark said.

While most classes run several hours a day for several days, Clark said that people with less time to devote to classes can take the class online and get a certificate, then call the DNR to set up a time for a faster version of the traditional class.

“You come in, you don’t have to go through the class,” Clark said. “We just give you the written test, you take it, you do the hands-on, and you’re in and out in a half hour, 45 minutes tops.”

Though Clark has lived in Marion County since he started school at Fairmont State eight years ago, he’s originally from Doddridge County.

“I’m from a little area called New Milton, up a holler called Snake Run,” Clark said. “It’s the middle of nowhere. I grew up a half hour away from the nearest town, 45 minutes away from the nearest stop light, and probably an hour away from the nearest Walmart.”

Growing up there had its advantages: Without any restaurants nearby, Clark learned how to cook at a young age.

“Our nearest restaurant was a half hour away, so I picked things up from my mom and my aunts,” Clark said.

His whole family lives on Snake Run.

“My grandpa lived at the mouth of Snake Run. My mom’s sister lives right behind him, and we live in the middle, and then my mom’s brother lived up here with his family,” Clark said.

“When I was growing up, when I was younger, we’d all get together two or three times a week, and everybody in the holler would eat dinner together, so if you spent any time in the kitchen, you picked up on stuff,” Clark said. “And growing up there, I’m close with my cousins, and pretty much my whole family.

“If I take after anybody, though, it’s probably my dad,” Clark said. “They always say I’m a carbon copy of him, so I guess I am.”

When Clark gets time off, he visits family.

“I either go down and visit my family in Doddridge, or my sister,” Clark said. “She lives in Harrison County, and she has two little girls, so I go down and visit them.”

Clark also loves listening to music in his spare time. And one band stands out from the rest.

“My favorite band of all time is Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Clark said. “I grew up on a farm building fences with my dad. And his favorite was Lynyrd Skynyrd. So when I was growing up, it was work in the farm with the record player outside with speakers blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd up the holler.”

He loves old Southern rock bands.

“And it has to have a guitar in it. If it doesn’t have a guitar, I’m not listening,” Clark said.

Clark said he likes living in Marion County. While not all of his friends stuck around after graduation, he’s made some new friends through his work.

“I made friends that work in Harrison County and Marion County, and some Morgantown guys, and we all keep in touch,” Clark said. “You definitely make some friends doing what we do.”

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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