HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 24) – Eighteen waterways conservation officers (WCO) from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) have formally graduated from the agency’s H.R. Stackhouse School of Fishery Conservation and Watercraft Safety and have started working in their assigned regions across the state.
“Learn your districts well so that you can properly advise anglers, boaters and others who have questions about where to fish or boat and about how to stay safe on our lakes, rivers and streams,” PFBC Executive Director John Arway said during the 21st class graduation ceremony held today at Fort Indiantown Gap. “You have a difficult and challenging job ahead of you, but if you do it right, it will be the most rewarding experience you will ever have.”
“Always remember that we serve the public and our natural resources and not ourselves and your decisions will be guided accordingly,” he added. “You become not only a part of the PFBC team, but also part of a much larger conservation team that includes our anglers, boaters and other conservationists who are our partners and allies. We cannot forget that.”
The new waterways conservation officers, their hometowns and assigned regions are:
- Jacob Bennett, Middleburg, Snyder County. Assigned to Snyder, Union, Montour, and western Northumberland counties.
- Michael Blair, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County. Assigned to southern Bucks County.
- Justin Boatwright, Muncy, Lycoming County. Assigned to Potter County.
- Matthew Colian, Cresson, Cambria County. Assigned to eastern Armstrong and Indiana counties.
- Thomas Csuri, Glen Rock, York County. Assigned to Clearfield County.
- Timothy Haas, Glenshaw, Allegheny County. Assigned to Lawrence and Butler counties.
- Nathan Hancock, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County. Assigned to southern Montgomery and western Philadelphia counties.
- Chad Lauer, Jersey Shore, Lycoming County. Assigned to Tioga County.
- Troy Merrell, Shartlesville, Berks County. Assigned to Berks County.
- Travis Miller, New Ringgold, Schuylkill County. Assigned to Lehigh County.
- Jeremy Ney, Halifax, Dauphin County. Assigned to Franklin and eastern Fulton counties.
- Matthew Raetsch, Malvern, Chester County. Assigned to western Allegheny County.
- David Raulfs, Jr., Allentown, Lehigh County. Assigned to Washington County.
- Zachary Rudd, Bloomsburg, Columbia County. Assigned to Northampton County.
- Tyler Soety, Corry, Erie County. Assigned to eastern Erie County. WCO Soety also received the Edward W. Manhart Academic Achievement Award.
- Rachael Thurner-Diaz, Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County. Assigned to Adams and western York counties.
- Joseph Underdonk, Sr., Elizabethtown, Lancaster County. Assigned to Warren County.
- Daniel Wilson, Dravosburg, Allegheny County. Assigned to southern Westmoreland County.
“Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come,” added Board President Edward Mascharka, III, who represents the agency’s 1st District. “As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
“Due to you and your training efforts, sound judgment, and foresight, the aquatic resources of Pennsylvania will be better protected for this and future generations as the Constitution guarantees,” he added. “You should take pride in the accomplishments you have made and go forward into the field to serve and protect the natural resources of this Commonwealth and the citizens of Pennsylvania.”
Before graduating, officers undergo an extensive 52-week training program. They completed Municipal Police Officers Basic Training in December. The training course, held at the Pennsylvania State Police Northwest Training Center in Meadville, Crawford County, covered all phases of police work, from the Vehicle and Crimes codes to use of firearms and conducting criminal investigations. Officers then completed seven months of on-the-job training with seasoned WCOs, including assisting with investigations, patrolling regions, participating in public outreach events and stocking waterways.
PHOTO CAPTION – 21st WCO Class (L-R): Justin Boatwright, Michael Blair, Chad Lauer, Nathan Hancock, Jacob Bennett, Matthew Colian, Timothy Haas, Travis Miller, Jeremy Ney, Daniel Wilson, Rachael Thurner-Diaz, David Raulfs, Matthew Raetsch, Tyler Soety, Troy Merrell, Zachary Rudd, Thomas Csuri, Joseph Underdonk
Eric Levis, Press Secretary
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