Jenn McClain Eskey is a lifelong learner and servant leader. She brings a sense of enthusiasm and a positive attitude to everything she does, whether she’s strolling through the woods, diving headfirst into a home improvement project, or interacting with people at work as a Natural Resources Officer from Ohio. Department of Natural Resources.
McClain Eskey draws lessons from the class and his own experiences, including military service, parenthood, owning a bakery, and volunteer firefighting. Although McClain Eskey never shy away from a challenge, she had to learn the hard way not to take on more than she can handle as a student.
McClain Eskey said she was academically terminated when she first attempted a degree from Ohio University nearly 12 years ago. At the time, her five children were small, and she was trying to balance school and full-time work with her family and military obligations.
“It was too much,” McClain Eskey said. “I overloaded myself. I learned a very valuable lesson in that I have limits. If I don’t overwork myself, I’m fine.
Fast forward a few years and McClain Eskey returned to Ohio University to complete her bachelor’s degree, earning her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University College this summer. After graduating, she entered the College of Arts and Sciences, where she is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Sciences.
“I love gaining knowledge,” McClain Eskey said. “I don’t think I will ever stop.”
McClain Eskey’s journey to a career in law enforcement began when she had two negative encounters with law enforcement officers during her teenage years.
“I thought I could do better and one day I’ll be in law enforcement,” she said.
She joined the military after high school, enlisting in the Army National Guard. Five years later, she earned her associate’s degree in corrections with a major in juvenile delinquency at Hocking College.
While working with young offenders in juvenile boot camps run by her National Guard unit, McClain Eskey fell in love with probation work. In 2005, she graduated from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) and later became a probation officer for the Athens County DUI Court.
After returning from a deployment to Iraq with the United States Army, McClain Eskey worked as a parking enforcement officer at the City of Athens for several years. She temporarily left law enforcement when she opened the Sweet Arts Bakery with her mother, who retired from a career in the kitchen at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital. McClain Eskey had a brief stint in culinary school after graduating from high school, cooked in the military, and has always enjoyed baking and cooking for others. The bakery was a dream for her and her mother. Their business was just starting to turn a profit when COVID hit in 2020.
“It was like my whole world was exploding,” McClain Eskey said.
They closed the bakery, not knowing what its future would be. In 2021, they made the decision not to reopen the bakery. That fall, on a long walk in the woods at Mohican State Park, McClain Eskey had a quiet moment of revelation. As she soaked up the natural beauty of the trees and the river, she realized she would love to spend her days working outdoors.
“I’ve been an outdoors person my whole life,” McClain Eskey said.
She had a conversation with a friend who works for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, asking him if he thought she would make a good natural resources officer. He said he couldn’t think of a better person for the job. McClain Eskey applied, completing a long and rigorous selection process, and became a natural resources officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about a year ago.
As a new officer, McClain Eskey underwent maritime patrol training, learning water survival and driving boats and trailers. She is stationed outside of Deer Creek State Park and also patrols Madison Lake and AW State Parks. In the coming months, it will be moved to Hocking Hills State Park.
Having the outdoors in the office is just one of the things McClain Eskey loves about his job. She also enjoys helping people, whether it’s unlocking someone’s car, towing a boat, or responding to an emergency.
“There is literally no typical day,” McClain Eskey said. “I can be out all day. I can be on a boat one day. I can be on an ATV. I could be on a track the next day. Of all the law enforcement jobs, this is one of the best. It’s funny because you never know what’s going to happen.
Of course, being a natural resources officer also has its challenges. McClain Eskey likens state park campgrounds to small towns with constantly rotating populations with varying degrees of rule-following.
“One weekend you might have a campground full of great people who like to follow the rules and the next weekend you might have half the campground full of people who are just there to cause trouble. “, she said.
McClain Eskey said many of her classes, especially criminology and policing in society, gave her new knowledge and insights that helped her understand the history of law enforcement, where she goes and how to be a better officer.
“I would highly recommend the Police in Society course to anyone who thinks they want to be a law enforcement officer,” said McClain Eskey.
McClain Eskey said she thinks furthering her education will make her a better officer, and since her Veterans Affairs benefits will pay for her higher education, she decided to continue her education after completing her undergraduate degree. .
“Knowledge and ongoing training are necessary to be a good law enforcement officer,” McClain Eskey said.
She also believes her training in OHIO will help her teach other officers once she completes the instructor class at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, which will qualify her to teach other law enforcement officers through OPOTA.
As a future instructor, she hopes to teach about victim awareness, domestic violence issues, and other human relations issues that she says don’t get enough attention in peace officer training.
McClain Eskey said she thinks people have misconceptions about what law enforcement jobs actually entail and she recommends students interested in law enforcement careers do their research.
“Make a list of five careers in law enforcement,” she said. “It could be a deputy sheriff. It could be a probation officer. It could be a bailiff. It could be a natural resources officer. Then find someone to observe the work. Go three or four different times, with three or four different officers, to better understand what this job is really about.
As someone who has worn many different hats in various jobs, McClain Eskey embraces change and advises others not to be afraid to make changes.
“Don’t feel like once you get into the career you can’t change,” she said, “I’m living proof that you can be whatever you want to be, and if you don’t like what it is, you’re doing it, change it.
McClain Eskey said her mother often urged her to slow down and calm down, after watching her daughter serve 12 years in the military and juggle her many roles. But McClain Eskey refuses to slow down and pause. She keeps a busy schedule, balancing work, family, school and volunteering. As a volunteer firefighter with the Waterloo Fire Department, she helps deal with problems ranging from fires and car accidents to gas leaks and cats stuck in trees.
“It’s just another way for me to give back,” she said. “I’ve always thought those who can help should, and I can do it physically and mentally now, so I should.”