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HARRISBURG, PA - Twenty-four new game wardens have been assigned to districts in Pennsylvania.

Following 44 weeks of intensive training, the 33rd Class of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation graduated Feb. 5, 2022 at the Susquehanna Township Middle School in Harrisburg. Video from the ceremony can be viewed on the Game Commission’s YouTube channel.

Training School Director Kyle Jury praised the class for its resiliency and commitment.

“Throughout training, the 33rd Class demonstrated their dedication to public service and wildlife resource protection in our great state,” Jury said. “The graduation of our new officers marks many individual accomplishments that contribute to the overall success of the agency.”

The 33rd Class enrolled on March 28, 2021 and was trained by nearly 200 instructors and field-training officers.

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

Graduate Andrew C. Macko IV received the class award for academics, with a score of 96.9%, and the Emergency Vehicle Operator Course driving award.

Graduate Alex J. Meyer was honored with the marksmanship award, achieving the highest combined score in a series of courses firing the handgun, rifle, and shotgun.

Graduate Jacob R. Babilon was selected as the fitness award winner for maintaining the highest standard of physical fitness during the training program.

Graduate Jeffrey B. McVaney received the Life-Saving Award for his efforts while on patrol in Mercer County, in helping to prevent an individual from committing suicide.

And Graduate Jon D. Walker was chosen by his classmates to receive the “Torch Award for Leadership.”

Graduates were commissioned as officers and have been assigned to their new districts. 

Members of the 33rd Class, their hometowns and their new assignments are:

Austin T. Adams, of Shamokin Dam (Bedford County); Mario W. Altieri, of North Huntingdon (Mercer County); Jacob R. Babilon, of Freeport (Butler County); Andrew D. Butler, of Wellsboro (Lycoming County); Lawrence J. Crimi III, of Jessup (Centre County); Jesse C. Cunningham, of Shiremanstown (Lehigh/Northampton counties); David R. Furmato, of Flemington (Lehigh County); Jeffrey C. Gibson, of Ogdensburg (Warren County); Blaine H. Groshek, of Smethport (Potter County); Levi R. Haenel, of Corry (Forest County); Tanner K. Hazlett, of Ashville (Greene County); Bradley L. Hyde, of Gettysburg (Fayette County); Sean C. Lauer, of Cross Roads (Jefferson County); Andrew C. Macko IV, of Tunkhannock (Luzerne County); Evan A. McDaniel, of Washington (Allegheny County); Jeffrey B. McVaney, of Hanover (Venango County); Alex J. Meyer, of Honesdale (Pike County); Zachary S. Salsgiver, of Middletown (Chester County); Justin M. Slomian, of Mansfield (McKean County); Zachary T. Soles, of Hershey (Dauphin County); David J. Van Solkema, of Cresko (Bradford County); Nicholas R. Visser, of Stroudsburg (Delaware County); Jon D. Walker, of Indiana (Indiana County); and April D. Whitsell, of Harrisburg (Cambria 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 school became a permanent facility until 1986, when the school was moved to the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.

MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541

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