Sept. 13, 2023
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
CONWAY – Twelve new faces will be seen behind the badge of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission as game wardens this fall after graduating from the AGFC’s training program Friday at Antioch Baptist Church.
All 12 cadets spent the last 18 weeks of their lives undergoing a transformation from cadet to game warden at the AGFC’s H.C. “Red” Morris Training Center east of Mayflower on Lake Conway. Long days and many nights of training and conditioning have prepared the new recruits for their new role in enforcing wildlife regulations, supporting other law enforcement agencies and becoming valuable members of the communities where they are stationed. By the end of the training school, each cadet received 835 hours of training in self-defense, firearms, first aid and rescue, drug enforcement, physical conditioning, criminal law and wildlife code enforcement.
Capt. Sydney Carman directs the cadet-training program, with many AGFC game wardens serving as instructors. Other experts teach specialized topics.
“We’re training our men and women to be game wardens, and it can be an entirely different world from other types of law enforcement,” Carman said. “We operate in many more remote areas where we have to be self-reliant and we have to wear many different hats on a daily basis. The variety of our workday that makes this job so great also means we have to prepare for many more situations and rise to unforeseen circumstances all the time. That’s why we try to use experienced wardens to teach as much of the courses as possible.”
Carman says the learning curve doesn’t just cover enforcement, but knowledge of conservation and wildlife and fisheries management.
“People don’t just call us to report poaching or other cases of people breaking the law,” Carman said. When someone comes across a deer that looks like its suffering from a disease or see a fish kill in a local lake, their local game warden is usually the first person they call. Our wardens need to know how to handle those situations as well. When they leave the training program, our wardens are Jacks and Jills of all trades.”
Each graduating warden will be assigned to a duty station based on the current needs of the Commission, but accommodations can be made to ensure officers that are familiar with certain areas are assigned near them if possible.
“Game wardens are part of their community; in some rural parts of the state, most folks know their local wardens’ names, families and know they can trust them to always be able to help,” AGFC Lt. Col. Jake Dunn said. “We always take that into consideration and want to place them where they will be able to thrive. If they’re already a part of a community and we have the opportunity to place them there, then we definitely try to make that happen.”
The 2022 graduates and their county assignments are:
- Haylee Applegate, assigned to Monroe County
- Trestin Blythe, assigned to Arkansas County
- Nathan Box, assigned to Desha County
- Devin Elliot, assigned to Madison County
- Adam Helm, assigned to Hot Spring County
- Timothy King, assigned to Randolph County
- Corey Lienhart, assigned to Green County
- Destiny May, assigned to Ouachita County
- James Ray, assigned to Sebastian County
- Brady Smith, assigned to Cleburne County
- Jimmy Snodgrass, assigned to Phillips County
- Cameron Wilborn, assigned to Desha County
For more information on becoming a wildlife officer, visit www.agfc.com/enforcement.