South Carolina DNR ‘adopts’ a teen, allowing him to pursue his dreams

South Carolina News

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Most graduates have a dream job, and thanks to the people he hopes to work with one day, one Lowcountry teen is one step closer to his.

Sirens blared and a line of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) vehicles began the slowly parade into the Battery Creek High School parking lot.

They arrived to honor Tyler Hancock, a senior with dreams of being a SCDNR officer someday.

Overwhelmed with emotion, tears flowed freely as the officers pass by to congratulate him.

“When I heard the sirens I started to get a little bit emotional,” said a teary-eyed Tyler, “and this was all a really big surprise.”

A dozen DNR officers were there to surprise Tyler with the announcement he is the “adopt a senior” scholarship winner.

“I’ve never had something like this happen before,” said Tyler as he wiped his eyes. “I tried so hard just to make it through and get through high school and do what I want to do. Now I finally get to do what I want to do.”

What Tyler wants to do is be part of the DNR staff as a game warden.

“When I saw Wes and Mark and those guys I knew it was going to be a good day,” said the teen.

Tyler wrote an essay about his desire to be a game warden for the scholarship entry. After he was chosen, DNR also discovered he had been a participant in the Take One Make One program they have for youth. So he knew many of the men who came to see him but what he didn’t know is what they were bringing.

A computer. A refrigerator. Pillows. Books. A new rod and reel. A coffee maker. Everything a college student might need in his dorm room. The biggest prize? Two $500 scholarship checks.

“As we drove up you could see him with tears and wiping tears,” said SCDNR FSgt. Andrew Godowns. “At that point, everything was worth it. All the time spent and everything. He’s a special young man and that in itself was all the reward you could ever ask for.”

“I get to reach out to a lot of young people and spend a lot of time with them and move them in whatever direction of life they want to and try to be a support for them,” said Take One Make One Coordinator LCpl. Mark Ferrell.

A foster child who was badly burned in a childhood accident, life hasn’t been easy for Tyler.

But with his foster family cheering on, he called this one of the best days of his life — and a sign of more great days to come.

“It means I’m going to be taken care of, it means that no matter what they are going to be there for me,” said Tyler. “If I am going through something they will be there to help take care of me, and I have someone to watch my back when I need someone to watch my back.”

“I mean look at me. I’m burned over 48% of my body,” Tyler. “I was told I couldn’t join the military and I couldn’t do a lot. but here I am hopefully achieving my dreams of becoming a DNR officer, winning this scholarship and everything. If I can do it almost anyone can do it.”

There was one more surprise. The Hampton Wildlife Fund donated money for Tyler to receive a hunting and fishing combination lifetime license.

The scholarship money provided by DNR and the Hampton Wildlife Fund will allow Tyler to go to Horry Georgetown Technical College in the fall to major in Forestry and Wildlife Management.

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