Game official lands dream job after Wayland experience

Release Date: January 26, 2009    

PHOENIX – A plaque near David Williams’ desk bears a fitting philosophy: “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.”

Though attributed to Confucius, that statement could very well be Williams’, especially since he landed his dream job two years ago as a hunter education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Though the journey to the job had its detours, Williams said he is glad that Wayland Baptist University was one stop along the road.

“Going through the university and getting the degree was a prerequisite for the job and helped put me above so many others who were applying for the job,” said Williams. “Having the degree also showed my determination and dedication to obtain something, especially while holding down a job and raising a family. What made the difference for me was that Wayland was able to come to us.”

Williams was a detention officer with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office when Wayland’s Phoenix campus began offering courses at the offices through a cohort program leading to a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He jumped at the chance to continue his education, put on hold decades earlier when he got married.

“We liked that Wayland was coming to us; it was so convenient I couldn’t not do it,” he said. “The group that was going to school together started getting promoted together.”

With 20 years invested with the county, Williams expected to work a few more years after graduating in 2006, then retire. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, he signed up for a volunteer training session with Arizona Game and Fish. There, he learned about a job opening and applied. He got the job out of 150 applicants.

He started the new job immediately and is still in a state of euphoria that his dream is now a reality.

“I was going to volunteer to do this, and now they’re paying me to do it,” he said incredulously. “I wasn’t even sure jobs like this existed.”

In his position, Williams teaches people statewide how to hunt safely, responsibly and ethically; how to ride ATVs safely; how to teach hunter safety; and wildlife conservation. He also leads youth hunts to mentor young hunters about safety issues and techniques and stays up on the population of animals around the state, doing surveys, relocating antelope populations and taking photos of wildlife.

Williams said he had “an overwhelming sense of pride” when he finished the degree, especially since he never considered himself an ideal student.

“I was the typical kid who hated school and did the least amount I could do to get by,” he laughed. “When I hit the college level and had different things motivating me, I realized then I should’ve paid more attention.”

Ironically, Williams’ journey to the outdoors involved sitting under instructors with whom he had hunted and an advisor at Wayland for whom he had previously worked at the county, retired captain Dave Wilson. His current partner with the state was a classmate at the police academy.