There’s a new Conservation Officer (CO) in the Boundary, at least for now.
Brock Van Damme started at the Grand Forks Conservation Service Office Sept. 1. Still in his field training, the 25-year-old has big shoes to fill, having come not two months after outgoing CO Mark Walkosky transferred to Williams Lake.
“People at the office call me ‘the new Mark,’” Van Damme joked in his first interview with The Gazette.
There’s a striking resemblance between their tightly-cropped brush cuts and their matter-of-fact bearing, but Van Damme shows every indication he’ll make new and unique contributions as a game warden.
“He’s showing a lot of promise,” lead CO Kyle Bueckert said.
Bueckert would know, not only because he served with Walkosky for two and a half years, but also because he’s hosted young Van Damme at his family home. Grand Forks, like much of Southeastern B.C., is in the grips of a tight rental market, and Bueckert is confident Van Damme will have experienced “the full gong show at my house,” by the time his seasonal contract comes up at the end of October.
Van Damme will then head back for a final six-week block of training, tentatively slated to be held in Chilliwack. After that, Bueckert said he was hopeful the Conservation Officers Service would offer Van Damme a full-time position here in the Boundary.
For his part, Van Damme said he’s more than eager to put down roots, especially because he’s built a strong rapport with the more experienced Bueckert.
“Kyle’s an amazing mentor. I see the passion and the commitment that he puts into the community and that makes me want to become a better officer.”
If hired back, it’ll be his job to preserve wildlife resources over a land mass stretching from Bridesville and Beaverdell in the West to roughly the top of the Paulson in the East.