After seven months of training in everything from water rescue and state-federal law to alligator handling, the 41 cadets of the 55th Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden class have closed one chapter of their lives and begun a new one with their graduation Tuesday as state game wardens.
The new game wardens will report for duty at stations spanning the state from East Texas to El Paso. Game wardens’ duties include responding to natural disasters and conducting public outreach on a variety of topics in addition to enforcing hunting and fishing laws and water safety regulations.
"Basically, game wardens are the primary law enforcement off the pavement in Texas," said Major Danny Shaw, director of training at the academy. "We do a lot more for the people of Texas than enforcing game and fish laws."
This class of cadets is the second to be trained in the new Texas Game Warden Training Center in rural Hamilton County. Located on a 220-acre tract donated by the Police Assistance League of Texas, the $20 million training center project has so far seen completion of an administration building, education hall-armory, dining hall and fitness center. The second phase will include a firing range, a water rescue facility, emergency vehicle operations course, refitting of instructor quarters and cadet cabins and helicopter landing pad.
These 41 cadets will bring to 532 the number of men and women who are carrying on a tradition of service to Texas that game wardens started in 1895.
The new game wardens will be stationed in:
Archer County – Richard Key
Brewster County – Daniel Kessler and Matt Kiel
Brown County – Matt Marek
Cameron County – David Lewis
Collin County – Joshua Ross
Concho County – Brad Clark
Dallas County – Jaime Sanchez
El Paso County – Hallie Dacy and Ken Zuber
Falls County – Brandon Rose
Gaines/Andrews Counties – Trey Sparkman
Gonzalez County – Ben Bailey
Hardin County – Wil Nicholson
Hidalgo County – Harry Rakosky
Hudspeth County – Cody Pokorney and Tyler Reed
Kinney County – Dayton Isaacs
Liberty County – Adam Broll
Lubbock County – Chelsea Estrada and Shannon Kruse
Maverick County – David Thorne
Moore/Sherman Counties – Ryan Hunter
Orange County – Phillip LeDoux
Presidio County – Andrew Banda and Bryan Newman
Robertson County – Charles Westerman
Sabine County – Sam Smith
Schleicher County – Christopher Frey
Starr County – Brandon West
Tarrant County – Patricia O’Neill and David Vannoy
Val Verde County – Crystal Hoppe and Isaac Ruiz
Webb County – Calvin Christian and Mark Nelson
Wichita County – Steven Cantu
Zapata County – Shane Bailey, Jake Mort and Jerry Norris
On the net:
How to be a Game Warden in 6 Easy Months: