The Missouri Department of Conservation hired two new conservation agents last month to serve in Northwest Missouri.

The conservation agent class of 2016 graduated during a special ceremony at the department’s Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City, where they took the oath of office.

Conservation agents are assigned to communities to enforce wildlife regulations, provide aid in hosting public events and offer advice in land management.

New Buchanan County agent

Parker Rice went to grade school in St. Joseph and was raised hunting and fishing. His grandfather, Phil Rice, retired after 40 years with the conservation department at the St. Joseph regional office.

“To me, the department, especially the protection division, has always felt like family because my grandfather was so involved in it,” Rice said. “It was who he was, and that’s how people knew him.”

Rice earned his undergraduate degree from Missouri Western State University in political science and criminal justice. He received his master’s degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia in public administration and received a master’s degree in criminal justice from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.

Rice worked for the division of youth services at a group home for residential offenders for three years before joining the Nebraska police force for more than six years.

He said he looks forward to hosting public events in the county to inform residents of outdoor sports.

“Conservation agents do not only show up when you’re having a bad day,” Rice said. “Agents enforce the wildlife law and enforce state law, but I’m also a huge hunter, trapper and fishermen. I enjoy all that, and I’m going to get paid to introduce people to do what I love and to educate people on the laws and enforce those laws.”

Rice can be contacted by phone at 816-244-6935 or by email at parker.rice@mdc.mo.gov.

New Clinton County agent

Zachary White is from Clay County near Kansas City. He went to the University of Central Missouri and earned a degree in conservation enforcement.

He was raised hunting, fishing and spending time at Smithville Lake.

After college, he worked for the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Kansas City Police Department. In addition, he did volunteer work for conservation agent Mark McNeely in DeKalb County before applying for the job.

White said he earned the degree because he enjoys hunting and fishing and wanted to interact with the public.

“It is about getting out and putting on programs and youth hunts and showing that other side and not just the enforcement-of-law side,” White said. “I think it’s important to get people together and enjoy nature.”

White can be contacted by phone at 816-646-6926 or by email at zachary.white@mdc.mo.gov.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at npsports@newspressnow.com.