New wildlife officers commissioned

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Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency commissioned 16 wildlife officers to join its ranks to serve in counties across the state. On hand are, from left, TWRA Lt. Col. Glenn Moates, retired TWRA Cpt. Ken Reedy, TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter, Chris Argo, Austin Parsley, Justin Pinkston, Matt Hammons, Dustin Burke, Riley Melton, Clay Hetland, TWRA Training Coordinator Cpt. Andy Rush, Jonas Cothren, Jocee Blanton, Zach Wofford, Taylor Weaver, Bradley Baldwin, Bradley Harris, Montana Michelson, Dillon Maynard, TWRA Col. Darren Rider, Hunter Spencer, and Lt. Col Cape Taylor.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officially welcomed 16 new wildlife officers during a commission ceremony held Thursday, Nov. 14 at Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center in Perry County.

The officers have been in training since early June. Many of the officers’ family and friends were on hand for their special day. TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter, TWRA Col. Darren Rider, and Training Coordinator Cpt. Andy Rush, and Lt. Shelley Hammonds made remarks, as did Jim Camp, president of Dynamic Messages LLC., who is recognized nationally for his expertise in several areas including law enforcement training, trial advocacy, and motivational speaking.

Director Carter administered the oath to the officers.

The new TWRA officers and their primary assigned counties are Chris Argo – Putnam, Bradley Baldwin (Bradley), Jocee Blanton – Grundy, Dustin Burke – Campbell, Jonas Cothren – Hickman, Matt Hammons – Polk, Bradley Harris – Benton, Clay Hetland – Davidson, Dillon Maynard – Bradley, Riley Melton – Monroe, Montana Michelson – Houston, Austin Parsley – Madison, Justin Pinkston – Jefferson, Hunter Spencer – Hickman, Taylor Weaver – Wayne, and Zach Wofford – Wayne.

As wildlife officers, their duties will include enforcing and educating the public of hunting and fishing regulations, boating regulations, conducting hunter education programs and public education in the outdoors, and habitat management.

Several members of the class were also honored with special awards presented during the ceremony.

Zach Wofford was honored by receiving the Gregory-McWherter Memorial Award. The award recognizes the cadet in recognition for overcoming obstacles faced when attempting to become a wildlife officer. The award is named in honor of former wildlife officers George Gregory and Gary McWherter who each passed away while still on active duty while battling cancer.

Chris Argo was presented with the Leadership Award for the class. The award is presented to cadets who exhibit strong leadership characteristics throughout the training. He was voted as class president by his peers mid-academy.

Bradley Harris was the recipient of the Academic Award, he maintained the highest-grade point average throughout the 20-week academy. He was also presented the Academy Ace Award, a culmination of multiple accolades in various areas of the academy such as academics, physical fitness, driving, firearms, defensive tactics, and other subjects.

The Top Shot “Firearms Award” was presented to Matt Hammons, who demonstrated the greatest proficiency with pistol, shotgun, and rifle.

Jonas Cothren is the recipient of the Driving Award, presented to the cadet who exhibits strong proficiency in emergency vehicle operations.

Riley Melton and Justin Pinkston were recipients of the Physical Fitness Award. The award recognizes those who excel in physical-related activities while in the academy.