More than a dozen Unity College-trained wardens were recognized for exceptional merit by the Maine Warden Service recently, while a federal wildlife officer who graduated Unity earned national recognition for her conservation law enforcement work.

In Maine, a dozen Unity alumni were recognized at the Samoset Resort in Rockport during the agency’s 135th Anniversary and Annual Awards Ceremony in March.

Exemplary Service Awards went to Chris Dyer ’95, of Morrill, Maine; Aaron Cross ’07, of Morrill; Dave Ross ’06, of China, Maine; Preston Pomerleau ’04, of Sabattus, Maine; Lucas Bellanceau ’13, of Porter, Maine; Jeremy Kemp ’99, of Sangerville, Maine; Sgt. Glen Annis ’92; Mike Boyer ’91, of Holden, Maine; and Cpl. Michelle Merrifield ’93, of Union, Maine.

A certificate for exemplary service is presented when a warden “has rendered relevant, outstanding service which deserves special recognition.”

Merrifield also was honored with The William R. Roseberry Spirit of America Award.

An Operation Game Thief Guardian Award went to Sgt. Chris Simmons ’90, of Morrill.

And Maine Warden Service Association Special Recognition Awards went to Ross, and also to Eric Rudolph ’06, of Ellsworth, Maine.  ​

On a national scale, Samantha Fleming ’08, of Catonsville, Md., recently was named 2014 US Fish and Wildlife Officer of the Year for Region 5, which covers federally protected areas from North Carolina to the Ohio River.

Fleming, a Federal Wildlife Officer at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, was recognized “for her outstanding law enforcement service and for her wiliness to lead projects that extend beyond her duties.”

One of Fleming’s top priorities is visitor safety, with approximately 200,000 people visiting the refuge annually, according to a news release from the federal agency.

“As a Federal Wildlife Officer, Samantha is the face of the Service to the visiting public,” the release said.

“It’s important to have relationships with visitors,” she said. “The better you know them, the better they feel about the refuge, the safer they feel on the refuge.”

In 2014, Fleming handled 1,416 field contacts, worked on several high profile cases, developed partnerships with law enforcement agencies in the area, and often acted as first responder when incidents occurred near the Refuge, according to the USFWS. She also took on many of the roles and responsibilities of the Deputy Refuge Manager when the refuge had a need.

Patuxent Research Refuge is located within the Baltimore-Washington Corridor, home to 9 million people.

“Patuxent is challenging because it is an urban refuge,” Fleming said. “We are 20 minutes from D.C. and 20 minutes from Baltimore, so we get an influx of people.”

The awards underline the value of a Unity College training for youths interested in protecting America’s vast but vulnerable protected areas.

“We are very proud of our alumni,” said Zach Falcon, Assistant Professor of Conservation Law and Environmental Policy.  “Since its founding in 1972, Unity’s conservation law enforcement program has set the standard of excellence in the field.  These graduates stand tall in that tradition.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015