Law enforcement officers at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) are working in the field all hours of the day. Some are on boats, others are in swamps, and many are in the rural woods of which South Carolina has no shortage.
What once seemed like a job for only men has been transformed over the years by different women, like Lt. Kim Leverich. She joined SCDNR in 1995 after six years of service in the military.
“At that time, I think we had eight females with this agency,” said Leverich, education and law enforcement outreach officer. “I was assigned to a unit, it was district eight, it was the old Florence region, but I was the first female that unit had had, and it was just an adventure.”
In January 2019, Leverich will be retiring from the SCDNR with 30 years combined service. She said it’s always been exciting being one of the few females working alongside men, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t work just as hard as the men.
“On our first duck cases, I can remember [a former officer] would always want me to wear a mask with my toboggin, so they couldn’t tell I was a woman and after we caught them, he would want me to take it off.”
Leverich said it never got old when people were surprised to see a female game warden. And while she loves her job, some days it was difficult.
“Duck season you’re out before the crack of day and then you come home in the middle of the day, and then you’re [working] late evenings, so sometimes it was hard to be a mom,” said Leverich. “Overall, being a woman that loves being outdoors—I love the job. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. If you come into DNR, make an impact, lead the way.”
What she’ll miss the most: the kids. Leverich has been working with the youth at SCDNR in a program called Take One Make One (TOMO) for 10 years. TOMO provides mentoring opportunities for youth interested in life outdoors, designed for youth ages 10 to 17 with little to no hunting experience.
“The kids have really made this time, so much that when I retire, I’ve got some great retirement plans,” said Leverich. I’m going to be cruising with my husband around the Caribbean, but we’re going to be going into schools, doing some volunteering, we’re going to start a YouTube channel.”
Leverich and her husband plan to work with the children in schools around the Caribbean and connect them to the children in South Carolina to try to make a difference in each other’s lives.