Wednesday, March 4, 2015

PA Game Commission Ranks Replenished

Wildlife Conservation Officers graduate as part of Ross Leffler School of Conservation’s 30th Class.

          Pennsylvania has gained 25 new Wildlife Conservation Officers.  Following 51 weeks of intensive training, the 30th Class of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation graduated Saturday during a ceremony at Susquehanna Township Middle School. 

            The graduates were commissioned as officers, and have been assigned to their new districts. 

During the ceremony, graduates were recognized for achievements in the areas of academics, marksmanship, physical fitness, driving skills and leadership. 

WCO Graduate Jason Wagner received the class award for academics, with a score of 98.6 percent. The class’ average score was 92.7 percent. 

Wagner also received the Emergency Vehicle Operator Course driving award. 

WCO Graduate Jared Turner was honored with the marksmanship award, scoring 634 out of a possible 700 points. 

WCO Graduate Matthew Johnson was selected as the fitness award winner for maintaining the highest standard of physical fitness during the 51-week training program.

And, WCO Graduate Brandon Pfister was chosen by his classmates to receive the “Torch Award for Leadership.” 

Members of the 30th Class, their hometowns and their new assignments are:
Blake Barth, of Lock Haven (western Bradford County); Steven Brussese, of Newport (northwestern Tioga County); Michael College, of Altoona (Montour County); Zachary Edwards, of Nanty Glo (northern Somerset County); Jeremy Febinger, of Kittanning (western Greene County); Joel Gibble, of Lebanon, (eastern Schuylkill County); Skyler Gibble, of Coudersport (northwestern McKean County); Michael Goodenow Jr., of Athens (northeastern Bradford County); Andrew Harvey, of Friedens (southern Fayette County); Ellyn Henry, of Emmaus (southern Bucks County); Matthew Johnson, of Lansdale (northern Chester County); Eric Kelly, of Clifton Township (southeastern Bradford County); Thomas Kline, of Reading (western Allegheny County); Tyler Kreider, of Stroudsburg (southern Lehigh and Northampton counties); Jason Macunas, of Auburn (southeastern Berks County); Eric McBride, of Clearfield (northwestern Warren County); Jeffrey Orwig, of Felton (southern McKean County); Brandon Pfister, of Duncansville, (northern Bedford County); Amanda Powell, of Huntingdon, (eastern Greene County); Benjamin Rebuck, of Sunbury (southern Susquehanna County); Justin Ritter, of Boiling Springs (Delaware County); Matthew Savinda, of Tarentum (southern Warren County); Michael Stutts Jr., of Meadville (western Erie County); Jared Turner, of Bristol (northern Lackawanna County); and Jason Wagner, of Elizabethtown (eastern Elk County). 

In 1930, Ross Leffler, then president of the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners, proposed the establishment of a training school for game protectors. When the training school opened its doors in 1932, in Brockway, Jefferson County, it was the first such conservation officer training school in the world and served as a model for other states. 

From 1932 until 1935, the Ross Leffler School of Conservation offered in-service training for game protectors. The Commission voted to make the school a permanent facility and enrolled its first class of trainees in 1936, and continued training new classes at this facility until 1986. 

In 1987, the training school was moved to the Harrisburg headquarters, which just opened the doors to its current facility in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. 

Game Commission WCOs are responsible for administering a wide variety of agency programs within an assigned district of about 350 square miles. 

Primary duties include law enforcement, responding to wildlife conflicts, conservation education, and administration of the Hunter-Trapper Education program. Officers also are responsible for supervising and training part-time Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officers

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