Unity College prepares to reach a landmark step forward for law enforcement in Maine.

On Friday, November 4, the closing ceremonies will be held for the first graduating class of the National Park Service Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program, a new program available in Maine through Unity College.  The closing ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. in Moore Auditorium at The Schoodic Education and Research Center Institute (SERC).

Dignitaries attending the graduation include Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College, Michael Soukup, President and CEO and Bill Zoellick, Chief Financial Officer / Education Research Director with the SERC Institute, and Sheridan Steele, Superintendent of Acadia National Park.

Zoellick, serving in his capacity as Chair of the Unity College Board of Trustees, will address the graduates.

Beginning in September of 2011, Unity College through its conservation law enforcement program began offering a seasonal law enforcement training program in conjunction with the National Park Service at the SERC just outside Winter Harbor, Maine.  Successful graduates of the program are eligible to obtain a federal Level II law enforcement officer certificate, the requirement to attain a seasonal law enforcement ranger position with the National Park Service.

The program is accredited through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation Board as part of the National Park Service seasonal ranger training program. The National Park Service and Unity College received final accreditation approval by the Board on November 16th in Annapolis, Maryland.

“Individuals that successfully complete this training will be qualified to hold a seasonal law enforcement position at Acadia National Park (Maine) or any other national park in the United States,” said Tim Peabody ’81, an associate professor of conservation law enforcement and former colonel of the Maine Warden Service. Peabody helped to plan the accredited law enforcement program which is sanctioned through the National Park Service and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.  “Support for the program has been tremendous, it could have not happened without the support of Acadia National Park, Maine State Police, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and private organizations like Pleasant River Fish and Game  in Columbia Falls”.

The first class was open to 20 qualified applicants with preference given to students enrolled in a Unity College degree program.  Peabody expected the majority of participants to be conservation law enforcement majors from Unity College, though that was not a requirement for participation, non-Unity students are eligible fill any available positions in the class.  The 400 hour course runs for 10 weeks with participants pursuing eight hours or more of training each day.

“This has been in the planning since 2008,” Peabody noted.  Retired Professor of Conservation Law Dr. G. Patrick Stevens had long wanted to found such a program for Unity students, many of whom pursued this type of training elsewhere.

As fate would have it, Bill Zoellick, Chair of the Unity College Board of Trustees, and Education Program Director for the Schoodic Education and Research Center Institute (SERC), a non-profit organization that partners with Acadia National Park to manage the Schoodic Education and Research Center, solicited training program ideas from Unity faculty.  Peabody immediately championed the idea of beginning a seasonal law enforcement training program at Schoodic.

Conservation law enforcement has traditionally been one of the largest and best-known degree programs at Unity College, so forming the program made sense as a logical step forward, essentially creating an “in-house” opportunity for Unity students who frequently pursued this training elsewhere.

“It’s just a win for Unity students and others because they get this advanced law enforcement training and as a result have the chance to take a summer position with the National Park Service,” Peabody stated.  “Well qualified students will be sought after.”

In 2010, Unity College was named to the top 30 of the Washington Monthly college rankings, and was one of eighteen U.S. colleges and universities named to The Princeton Review’s Green Rating Honor Roll.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011