Oklahoma game warden Lt. Todd Tobey recently completed the National Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy (NCLELA). The prestigious program brings together conservation law enforcement leaders from across the country
The academy, conducted by the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs, prepares conservation law enforcement professionals to effectively adapt to a rapidly changing world. Held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., the academy provides the practical skills and knowledge needed by those in conservation law enforcement leadership roles in state and federal agencies.
Last year, Lt. Mark Walker, game warden based in Blaine County, and Lt. Nathan Erdman, game warden based in Okfuskee County, attended the academy.
Attendees must be employed in one of the highest tiers of senior leadership in the applying law enforcement agency; be employed by a state, federal, tribal or international conservation law enforcement agency; and have the endorsement of the agency's chief executive.
"Lt. Tobey has shown tremendous initiative during his career and continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to professional development," said Col. Robert Fleenor, chief of law enforcement for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Col. Robert Fleenor
Conservation. "We believe strongly in supporting the efforts of our game wardens to advance their knowledge and skills, which helps us become better as a conservation law enforcement bureau."
Attendees took part in programs including adaptive leadership, leading change, resource management, personnel management, shaping organizational culture, strategic planning, surviving and succeeding as an executive, liability and establishing a leadership legacy.
Tobey, who is based in Pittsburg County, said he was impressed by the array of topics covered at the academy. "This program has made me a better warden and leader, which allows me to help make the people around me better."
The academy gave Tobey a chance to build connections with members of other agencies across the country. The training he received and the contacts he made will allow him and other Oklahoma game wardens to continue to benefit from the training.
"What I've learned through this program will last me the rest of my career."
Wardens are among the most widely recognized members of the wildlife conservation team. The Wildlife Department employs more than 100 wardens, who are dispersed among eight law enforcement districts.
Oklahoma's game wardens are public servants sworn to protect wildlife and the public's interests in the outdoors. All wardens are state-certified peace officers, allowing them to enforce all state laws, and all are commissioned federal game wardens, allowing them to enforce Lacey Act violations.
"A game warden's primary job is to enforce the fish and wildlife laws of this state," Fleenor said. "These laws allow for the proper management and conservation of Oklahoma's wildlife resources, ensuring that all sportsmen have opportunities to hunt or fish for years to come."
Game wardens often visit landowners in the county they serve, encouraging them to allow ethical hunters and anglers on their land to harvest the wildlife. They may assist landowners with poaching problems, or give them information about having fish stocked into their pond. And wardens check licenses and bag limits of hunters and anglers in the field.
Wardens also perform many other duties that bring them into contact with the general public. They provide fishing reports and hunting reports from across the state, speak to various youth and civic groups, distribute printed materials, and help teach hunter education courses or fishing clinics.