In 2005, Idaho native, Jennifer Jackson, began her career with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as a Regional Conservation Educator in the southeast region. Part of a long line of outdoorsmen, she thought she held the distinction as the first Fish and Game employee from her clan. Not so.
A Christmas present from her mother the first year of her employ revealed a part of her family’s history that Jackson had not known. Wrapped in a cardboard box were three family mementos— nine old metal deer and elk tags from the 1950s, a deputy game warden badge, and a certificate assigning Jackson’s grandfather the commission of “Deputy Game Warden without pay” signed by former State Fish and Game Warden, M.P. Bailey, in 1931.
Jackson’s grandfather, E.R. Kammerath, was the first family member to work for the early version of what became the Idaho Department of Fish and Game —even if without pay. His full-time job was working as a jeweler at Christman’s Jewelry Store in Montpelier, a store he later purchased and operated under his name. Kammerath was also an official Union Pacific Time Inspector. Railroad engineers were required to have their time pieces checked for accuracy by Kammerath when they came through town. But, as Jackson discovered, he was not only responsible for helping keep engineers on time, Kammerath helped keep hunters and anglers in line.
Today, Kammerath’s badge, certificate, and some of his old unfilled deer and elk tags sit on a bookshelf inside his granddaughter’s office at Fish and Game. Jackson, who never knew her grandfather, says that she feels a strong connection to him because of his early role in wildlife management and conservation.
“It is one thing to see pictures of him fishing with my mother and hear stories of how he loved upland bird hunting with his dogs. Those are special traditions for sure,” Jackson says. “But, I feel something else when I hold the very badge he used to wear when he was out in the field as a deputy game warden decades ago. It reminds me that we are connected by another important family tradition—that of working for Idaho’s wildlife resource and the people who cherish it.”