For any student interested in becoming a Maine State Game Warden, there’s no better way to prepare than by landing a summer position as a Deputy Game Warden. This year, all six Deputy Game Warden summer positions were filled by Unity College Conservation Law Enforcement students.

“This is an accomplishment that our students, as well as their professors, should be very proud of,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “ In fact, it speaks to the breadth of our Conservation Law Enforcement program, and the overall quality of our education. Experience is a critical part of a Unity College education, and this will certainly give these students an edge when they graduate, whether they choose to enter the workforce or pursue further education.”

The process began for the six students with an application in December. From there, Marc D’Elia, of Troy; Nicholas Johnson, of Unity; Emily Tripp, of Frankfort; Morgan Jeane, of Windsor; Keegan Nelligan, of Abington, Mass.; Will Reinsborough, of Pownal, spent several months taking written exams, oral boards, swim tests, polygraph tests, and psychological exams to emerge as top tier candidates. The process closely mirrors the rigor and difficulty that a full-time candidate would go through.

After passing the first part of the hiring process, the students were then required to attend the Law Enforcement Pre-Service, administered by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and pass the training from the Maine Warden Service, which includes firearms, water survival, and mechanics of arrest.

“Many students come to Unity with the goal of one day working for a top agency like the Maine Warden Service,” said Zachary Falcon, Assistant Professor of Conservation Law and Environmental Policy. “The Conservation Law Enforcement program prepares students to compete in the field, but they still need a strong work ethic and a high degree of professionalism to succeed. These six students demonstrate that every day, and we could not be more proud of their achievement.”

“It’s surreal. It didn’t fully sink in until they pinned the badge on me,” said Keegan Nelligan, one of the six students. “I’ve been wanting to be a game warden since I was a little kid, and even though I’m not currently a full-time game warden, this is a big step for me. I’m very excited, and excited to see what the future holds for this position.”

Though he’s currently in his training hours, Keegan said that the majority of his work this summer will be as a Boating Deputy, where he’ll patrol bodies of water such as Long Lake or Brandy Pond to ensure boaters are being safe. The Maine Warden Service, however, could call upon the Deputy Game Wardens for other tasks as needed, such as search and rescue assistance.

After this summer position, Keegan will enter into his senior year at Unity College, and hopes to land a full-time position as a Game Warden upon graduation.

“It’s always exciting to see where our students go after graduation,” added Dr. Khoury. “With a summer serving as Deputy Game Wardens, I see a very bright future for all six of these students.”