50th Game Warden Cadet Class Graduates

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AUSTIN, Texas — The 50th Game Warden Cadet class graduated at the State Capitol June 17 and is now fanning out to their new duty stations across Texas.

Of the 36 cadets who graduated, 12 have conservation degrees, 13 have criminal justice degrees, two have conservation science degrees, and nine have other degrees. One is an entomologist, one worked Internet crimes in Texas and one was a Nevada Game Warden.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Robert L. Cook gave the keynote address.

"One of your most important goals should not be how many violators you apprehend and file on but how many folks learn from you the reason, the value, and the importance of conservation of our natural resources in Texas, so they become teachers and leaders in conservation," Cook said.

Randy Odom, chief of training at the academy, said "There is a need to fill the slots left by those who have retired (as a result of a statewide retirement incentive last August)."

The six-month academy brought the cadets from throughout the state to Austin where they lived until graduation. The academy included 1,200 hours of instruction — including the 576-hour basic peace officer course. Game warden cadet training also includes hunting, fishing, and boating safety regulations, fish and wildlife identification, search and rescue and public speaking. The academy included field trips to ranches for training using mock scenarios and to lakes for instructions in boat operations.

The wardens also took 16 hours of Spanish as required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, which is the licensing agency for peace officers in the state.

Lt. Col. Pete Flores of the TPWD law enforcement division, who is bilingual, said, "The ability to speak a second language is a great tool in a profession that requires the warden to communicate with people of all cultures as they hunt and fish in our state. Spanish is our predominant second language in Texas and an officer that understands the language and the culture is more effective and safe due to the increased ability to communicate. The knowledge of the culture allows the warden to avoid confrontation by recognizing cultural issues that, left ignored, might lead to a potential misunderstanding."

For more information about becoming a game warden cadet, call (877) 229-2733 or visit the Web at (http://tpwd.texas.gov/involved/jobvac/gwcadet/).

Following is a list of the new wardens and the counties where they are assigned:

County, Name

  • Brazos, Chad Jones
  • Caldwell, Joann Garza
  • Callahan, James Brown
  • Comal, Billy Lucio
  • Dallas, Gary Miller Jr.
  • Denton, Christopher Daigle
  • Ector/Crane, Justin Jackson
  • Fayette, Erik Nygren
  • Gaines, Stephen Urben
  • Grimes, Jonathan Heaton
  • Hardin, Timothy Elmore
  • Harris, Kevin Mitchell
  • Harrison, Jarrod Bryant
  • Houston, Eric McCarstle
  • Jasper, Phillip Wood
  • Jeff Davis, James Porter
  • Jefferson, Kirk Jenkins
  • La Salle, Ryan Johnson
  • Lampasas, Jeffery Hill
  • Marion, Timothy Willeford
  • Matagorda, Aaron Koenig
  • Maverick, Oscar Jaimez
  • Milam, Michael Mitchell
  • Montague, Trent Herchman
  • Newton, Michael O’Dwyer
  • Newton, William Powell
  • Panola, Jon Kassaw
  • Pecos, Christopher Amthor
  • Presidio, Anthony Todd
  • Randall, Frank Niemiec
  • San Patricio, Martin Garcia
  • San Saba, Christopher Wilson
  • Stonewall/Fisher, Justin Valchar
  • Tyler, Bryan Baronet
  • Wise, Curtis Sadler
  • Zavala, Chris Stautzenberger