Van Derhoef graduated from Wheaton High School before graduating from Missouri State University with a bachelor's degree in wildlife conservation management.
"I began my career with the department in 1994 at the Roaring River State Park hatchery," Van Derhoef said. "I then served as a range officer at the Andy Dalton Range facility where I was responsible for many public programs such as hunter's education, Great Outdoors Day, Woodworking for Wildlife and various firearms classes."
Van Derhoef said he also managed deer and turkey hunts for citizens with disabilities and received the Governor's Award for those efforts.
Van Derhoef underwent agent training in December of 2010, and upon graduation in August of last year, was assigned to Barry County along with Agent Daniel Shores.
"At the hatchery, my focus was working with the trout program," Van Derhoef said. "At the range, it was education. Now my job duties are geared toward enforcement of wildlife regulations and part education.
"Regulations are set to benefit wildlife and fish," Van Derhoef said. "People don't want to mess with the deer population in the spring when they are rearing their young, so that's why they are allowed to hunt in the fall. These regulations ensure that we regulate harvest times and keep animal population numbers in check."
After an 18-month vacancy in the Barry County area, agents Van Derhoef and Shores are re-enforcing the agency's presence by spending a lot of time in the field, checking permits and letting people know that enforcement efforts are a priority.
"We primarily want to protect our resources," Van Derhoef said, "but our duties will also include education, wild game cooking classes, public presentations to various civic and educational clubs, and promoting programs such as archery in the schools and trapping education."
Van Derhoef enjoys many aspects of his job, inlcuding education and working with the public.
"Teaching someone something new and seeing the smile on their face makes me smile," Van Derhoef said. "Catching a wildlife violator -- that feels pretty good, too.
"I taught people of all ages at the range," he continued. "I like seeing people learning and enjoying it. Age doesn't matter."
Van Derhoef also hopes to promote Operation Game Thief, the program where citizens report poaching and other illegal activity on conservation lands by calling 1-800-392-1111.
"I've always wanted to be an agent," Van Derhoef said. "The problem was, because I enjoyed the other aspects of my previous jobs with the department, it was hard to leave them. But this is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream."
Van Derhoef and his wife, Leilani, and their two daughters, Lorelei and Lyndsie, will soon be relocating to the Cassville area.
"I have family and friends here in Barry County," Van Derhoef said. "I'm glad to be home. It's good to be back."
Van Derhoef and Shores can be contacted at the local MDC office at 417-895-6880. Van Derhoef can also be reached on his cell phone at 417-342-5579. Shores can be reached at 417-229-4706.