Ray Garton has been named the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA).
The winner of the award was announced by Darren Rider, TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division Chief.
Mr. Garton is a wildlife officer in TWRA Region I’s District 12 and was selected among other TWRA law enforcement officers to become the state recipient. He will be recognized at this year’s SEAFWA meeting to be held in Arkansas in October.
Also honored as TWRA district and region selections were: Daniel Stanfield – District 11; Matt Brian – District 21; Todd Weaver – District 22 and Region II selection; Nick Luper – District 31; Christy Twilla – District 32 and Region III selection; Anthony Chitwood – District 41 and Region IV selection and David Carpenter – District 42. These officers were selected for their efforts in teamwork, public outreach, excellence, innovation, attitude, leadership, achievements and accomplishments.
“It’s always a difficult situation when one officer is selected out of a group of officers that have all gone above and beyond the duty of ensuring Tennessee hunters, anglers and boaters are provided a safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities,” said Mr. Rider. “All these officers are to be commended for their professionalism and efforts they displayed this year. All these officers had a fantastic year, but Ray really excelled in all aspects of his job.”
Mr. Garton is assigned to Hardin County but also works throughout the 12 counties in District 12.
“Ray’s teamwork and outreach efforts were outstanding,” said Mr. Rider. He writes weekly articles for two county newspapers and conducts radio and television spots for local stations. Mr. Garton gave programs at a local school utilizing the “bone box”, spoke at Hardin County Farm Day and set up a deer scoring and informational booth at “Hunter’s Night Out.” Mr. Garton also assists with the “Hunting for a Cure” program and the Hardin County youth deer hunt.
“Ray’s efforts in excellence and innovation were also great,” said Mr. Rider. “He developed a new “Aquatic Habitat Program” for the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Their goals are to take kids to the creek and take samples with nets and seines to learn and identify the different aquatic species. Ray also works with the Eagle Scouts on surveying the estimated number of eagles in the area.” Mr. Garton conducts an after school fishing clinic for students where classroom instruction is given on one day and pond fishing is accomplished on the second day.
Mr. Garton’s attitude and leadership efforts are also to be commended, according to Mr. Rider. He coordinated an enforcement detail in his work area with officers from Alabama and Mississippi to help control boating issues that were occurring on Pickwick Lake. He serves as the coordinator for work details in four counties of his district. Garton was also instrumental in the training of two newly hire officers for the District. Other officers in the district rely on Mr. Garton for complicated wildlife and boating cases because of his unique investigative skills.
Mr. Garton really excelled in his achievements and accomplishments this year. He became a certified Boone and Crockett scorer for North American big game. He was certified to measure motor boat engine noise and attended a course on court room testimony.
He made field contact with 172 hunters, 407 anglers and 438 boaters. These contacts resulted in 95 citations and assisted other officers on 75 citations. These citations included: nine big game with 16 assists; six small game with 12 assists; 31 sport fishing with 30 assists; 42 boating with 14 assists and seven miscellaneous.