XENIA, Ohio – The Fraternal Order of Police Wildlife Officer Lodge 143 recently honored five Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife employees for excellent job performance, personal character, as well as their dedication to conservation and law enforcement. Lodge 143 is comprised of wildlife officers and investigators from the Division of Wildlife. All five recipients were chosen by their peers.
Ohio Wildlife Officer Chris Gilkey was the recipient of the 2021 Officer of the Year award. Officer Gilkey graduated from Hocking College in 2002, and the state’s Wildlife Officer Academy in 2007. He has served as an officer with the Division of Wildlife for 17 years. Officer Gilkey served in northwest Ohio and then in Adams County for six years before moving to his current position in Meigs County in 2012. Officer Gilkey, from Middleport, also serves the Division of Wildlife as a fitness instructor, field training officer, K-9 handler, and state K-9 evaluator. Officer Gilkey started his career as a shooting range attendant at Woodbury Wildlife Area in Coshocton County.
Ohio Wildlife Investigator Jeremy Payne was the recipient of the 2021 Investigator of the Year award. Investigator Payne graduated from Hocking College in 1992, and the Wildlife Officer Academy in 1996. He has served as an officer with the Division of Wildlife for 26 years. Prior to becoming an investigator in 2006, Payne was the wildlife officer assigned to Clinton and Logan counties. Investigator Payne also served in wildlife management for 18 months. Investigator Payne is from Bellefontaine and currently resides in Hardin County with his wife and daughter.
Wildlife Officer Supervisor David Warner was the recipient of the 2021 Supervisor of the Year award. Officer Warner graduated from Hocking College in 1995, and the Wildlife Officer Academy in 1996. He has served as an officer with the Division of Wildlife for 26 years. He served as the Greene County Wildlife Officer for 10 years before becoming a wildlife officer supervisor. Previously, Officer Warner was a creel clerk at Hargus Lake in Pickaway County and a seasonal wildlife technician at Woodbury Wildlife Area. Officer Warner is also a member of the Division of Wildlife officer’s training team. Officer Warner is from Ashville and currently resides in Greene County with his wife and three daughters.
Wildlife Area Manager Jim Schott was the recipient of the 2021 Division of Wildlife law enforcement assistance award. Schott, from Caldwell, graduated from The Ohio State University in 1993 and started his wildlife career as a creel clerk at Buckeye Lake. He also worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three years as a private lands biologist. Schott was hired by the Division of Wildlife as the Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area manager in 1996 and continues to manage the area today. Schott resides in Sandusky County with his wife and has two grown children.
Lodge 143 also recognized the 2020 Wildlife Officer of the Year, Ohio Wildlife Investigator Kevin Behr. Investigator Behr was unable to accept his award last year after being injured in the line of duty. Investigator Behr graduated from Hocking College in 1994, and the Wildlife Officer Academy in 1996. Investigator Behr has been an officer with the Division of Wildlife for 27 years. Previously, Investigator Behr was the wildlife officer assigned to Warren and Adams counties. Investigator Behr also worked for 18 months as a natural resources worker at the Spring Valley Wildlife Area and spent one year as a creel clerk on the Ohio River. He is a member of the Division of Wildlife Honor Guard, Southwest Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force, and has served as a field training officer. Investigator Behr is from Harrison and currently resides in Adams County with his wife. He has three grown children.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.