SJR STATE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS
Lauren Taylor (2014)
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer
Each week, St. Johns River State College will honor one of its own in an alumni salute, celebrating the career milestones, community contributions and personal reflections of those who began their collegiate journey as SJR State Vikings.
Growing up with a love of hunting, fishing and the great outdoors, Lauren Taylor is thrilled to work as an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “For as long as I can remember, all I wanted to do was become an FWC officer,” she said. “I get excited to come to work every day, if I can even call it work.”
According to Lauren, FWC officers have jurisdiction throughout the entire state. In addition to enforcing boating, fishing and wildlife laws, FWC officers can also enforce the same laws governed by deputy sheriffs and police officers. “However, as an agency, our main focus is fish and wildlife, boating safety and conservation,” Lauren explained. “Our mission statement is ‘Managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.’”
Lauren graduated from SJR State with an Associate in Arts degree in 2011, an Associate in Science degree in Criminal Justice in 2012 and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in 2014, majoring in Organization Management: Public Service Administration. She expressed sincere gratitude to professors Joel Abo, Jorge Herrera, Captain Keith Gaston and Karen Balcanoff for their impact on her educational career. “These professors showed me a great deal of support and really made me feel as if they believed in me and what I wanted to accomplish in life. Each of them helped me in any way that they could.”
Lauren fondly recalls her capstone presentation at the end of her bachelor’s degree program. “Being in the Public Service Administration program, I presented on ‘Women in Law Enforcement’,” she said. “I had such a sense of accomplishment when I was finished. Not only was I proud of my topic and presentation, but I was proud that I had reached my goal of getting my bachelor’s degree. I knew this would only help me reach my next goal of becoming an FWC officer.”
In addition to educating the public and enforcing boating, hunting, fishing and wildlife safety rules and regulations, Lauren also handles daily phone calls that range from boating accidents to bear complaints to assisting with natural disaster responses. “Every day, I can do something different,” she said.
Lauren patrols St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties. By boat, she travels along the St. Johns River from Julington Creek south to Lake George. On land, during the fall and winter, Lauren spends a great deal of her work day in the woods, checking local hunt clubs as well as state public and private lands for hunting violations. During the summer months, she spends her work days on the river, educating and enforcing boating safety and fishing regulations.
Lauren’s work also requires her to travel across the state of Florida. “Anytime there is a hurricane, for example, I am expected to be able to respond and be anywhere in the state that is in need of additional help,” she said.
Community outreach is also near and dear to Lauren’s heart. With a live gator present, she manned a booth at a William Bartram Day event. Other community events in which she has participated include The Jackson Project; Shop with a Cop; Cops, Kids & Firefighters Day; and the FWC Ocala Youth Camp, where she taught hunter safety and navigation, ran the gun range, assisted with fishing activities and more.
I was raised to love the outdoors and enjoy all the things it offers, so protecting our natural resources and wildlife is very important to me,” said Lauren. The public’s safety, while participating in recreational activities that our environment has to offer, is also very important to me. Not only do I love what I do, but FWC is a great agency to work for,” she added.
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Director of Public Relations and Publications