New WCOs begin duties

Seven waterways conservation officers from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, including a new one assigned toSusquehannaCounty, have formally graduated from the agency’s H.R. Stackhouse School of Fishery Conservation and Watercraft Safety.

“Learn your districts well so that you can give advice to anglers and boaters who have questions about where the fish are biting and when the seas or rivers are unsafe,” PFBC Executive Director John Arway said during the 20th class graduation ceremony held recently 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.

He added, “Always remember that we serve the public and our natural resources and not ourselves and that your decisions will be guided accordingly.  Our anglers, boaters and other conservationists are our allies and we cannot forget that.”

Chad McKenrick, ofPunxsutawney,JeffersonCounty, has been assigned to northern Susquehanna and easternBradfordcounties.

“You as waterways conservation officers have another very important role to perform for our agency,” added Commissioner Glade Squires, who represents the agency’s 8th District and serves as the chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee. “That is public relations and acting as an ambassador for the Commission. In many instances, in your interactions with the public in general and specifically, the anglers and boaters, you may be the only face of our agency that they ever see or meet.”

“In a law enforcement role, not all of these interactions will be under the most pleasant of circumstances for them.  Nonetheless, how you manage these interactions is not only a reflection on you personally, but a reflection on our entire agency,” he added. “Please take the public relations part of your job seriously and manage it well.”

Before graduating, officers undergo an extensive 52-week training program. They completed Municipal Police Officers Basic Training in December. The training course, held at thePennsylvaniaStatePoliceAcademyin Hershey, 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.

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating inPennsylvania, visit the website fishandboat.com.