When growing up, Mark Younie didn't think about being a law enforcement officer until his grandmother made the statement, "A person your size should be in the state patrol."
Now the stout 6' 2" Cherokee native is working in law enforcement and has been for 10 years. Only recently has he been doing that in the town where he grew up.
Younie lived in Cherokee since the first grade and graduated from Washington High School in 1989. He earned an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Iowa Lakes Community College in 1992. He graduated from the Iowa Police Academy in 1994 while working for the Dubuque Police Department.
Younie has also worked for the police department in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and has served in the Army Reserves.
"It feels great to be in my home town," he said.
Younie started work at the Cherokee Police Department in June. He and his family have found a home in Cherokee. His wife. Lynn, is an assistant director at Faith, Hope and Charity in Storm Lake. They have a six-year-old son, Colton, who will be in first grade this fall.
Younie enjoys being a police officer.
"It's a good feeling, helping people and doing your best to make the place you live a safer place," he said.
Prior to coming to Cherokee, Younie had served as a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer, a duty that he speaks of fondly. "There's nothing like seeing a whole class of kids excited to see you come there."
Of course, there are some aspects of the job that are not pleasant.
"I see the town with different eyes than before I left. It's sad to see a significant drug problem here," Younie said.
He said he doesn't know how much the drug problem has increased since he left Cherokee or how much he has just become more aware of the problem.
Another aspect of the job that is not pleasant, is the fact that some people, not just criminals, fail to see police as the good guys. Some even convey this attitude toward children through such statements as, "If you don't behave, the police will get you."
Such messages undermine the trust in police officers that they need to effectively communicate with young people.
Despite the challenges of the job, Younie regards being a police officer as a highly satisfying occupation.
He enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing and camping. He is a collector of Star Wars memorabilia.
Younie is a sports fan, an intelligent one, rooting for the Green Bay Packers.
He also enjoys being within easy driving distance of many family members, including the grandmother whose offhand comment had such a significant impact.