The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s 29th class of Wildlife Conservation Officer cadets includes men and women from Erie, Crawford and Mercer counties.
Erie’s Shawna Burkett and Jason Amory of Meadville are among 36 cadets in the class. The 31 men and five women will undergo 50 weeks of training, including field duty with active officers, before graduation in March 2013. A 100 percent graduation rate would make the class the largest in Game Commission history.
Patrick Cull of Sharpsville, Susan Edmiston or Hermitage, Josh Fette of Farrell and Kathleen Edmiston of New Wilmington, Lawrence County, also are among the cadets now living at the Ross Leffler School of Conservation in Harrisburg.
Cadets were selected from a field of nearly 750 applications through a series of written tests, interview boards and physical examinations. Minimum applicant age was 21 and maximum age 49; their average age is 29.6 years.
Their training will include wildlife management, physical fitness, firearms proficiency, unarmed self-defense, law enforcement, conservation education and, land management practices, among other subjects.
Graduates will be commissioned as wildlife conservation officers and given assignments in the Commonwealth. There’s a one-year probationary period before permanent job status is determined.
All but six of the cadets have earned college degrees or professional certifications. Six have been deputy WCOs for the Game Commission, and five have been or were Game Commission employees in other capacities. There are three Army veterans, one Marine, one Coast Guard veterans, two Air Force veterans and two Navy veterans. The cadets also include a former police officer, corrections officer, deputy sheriff, clerk, dispatcher, attorney, wildlife nuisance control agent, land abstractor, city councilman, arborist and sales representative.
Burkett once played for the Erie Illusion women’s football team.
The Game Commission has budgeted nearly $2 million to train the 36 individuals, who will fill vacant districts throughout the state.