This year’s Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Youth Academy program was a success, with 59 students completing the academies’ curriculum this past summer.

Now in its fourth year, the popular program is geared to students ages 12 to 15 with an interest in natural resources and law enforcement, with a focus on acquiring or enhancing boating, fishing and hunting skills.

Sessions for the Basic Youth Academy were held at the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Little Creek Hunter Education Training Center near Dover and Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center near New Castle. In addition to introductory boating, fishing and hunting skills, the students were exposed to various aspects of a Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. For patrol work, students completed field scenarios that included checking deer stands and duck blinds, using a decoy deer to nab poachers in the act, and making contact with visitors to Delaware’s wildlife areas managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife. They were also given instruction in the safe operation of boats and learned about on-the-water enforcement activities.

Students who completed the Kent County Basic Youth Academy were Michael Atchley, of Frederica; Nathaniel Atchley, of Frederica; Jaden Azato, of Lewes; Aaron Bartsch, of Townsend; Ben Barwick, of Georgetown; Logan Boyer, of Magnolia; Ethan Couch, of Laurel; Kenzey Curran, of Smyrna; Justin Didden, of Dover; Aiden Dill, of Camden; Aiden Durham, of Camden-Wyoming; Sean Jones, of Wyoming; Joshua Kenton, of Harrington; Elizabeth Krajewski, of Lewes; Jamieson Martin, of Clayton; Faith Mitchell, of Milford; Kieran Morris, of Middletown; Victoria Pedigo, of Camden-Wyoming; Samuel Pluta, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Rhett Robbins, of Frederica; Carissa Towery, of Dover; Olivia Tryon, of Harrington; Benjamin Warren,, of Dagsboro; and Walker Weiss, of Selbyville.

Students who completed the New Castle County Basic Youth Academy were Rachel Antonio, of New Castle; Gavin Bradley, of Middletown; Tyrone Brown, of Middletown; Cayleb Catherman, of Middletown; Edward Cobb, of Newark; Bradyn Coleman, of Newark; Jimmy David, of Middletown; Vinny Helms, of Townsend; Kolin Kaiser, of Middletown; Hunter Landry, of Magnolia; Harry Long, of Wilmington; Gabrielle Marrero, of Bear; Chris Napolin, of Townsend; Isabella Poore, of New Castle; Dawlat Refaie, of Wilmington; Walter Samuels, of Middletown; Justin Saylor, of Wilmington; Makenzey Stephenson, of Newark; Maddison Stubblebine, of Newark; and Sawyer Wilkins, of Landenburg, Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Basic Youth Academy students being presented their boating and hunter education certificates at graduation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police instructors presented awards to five students in each class. For the Kent County class, awards were presented to Michael Atchley for leadership, Jamieson Martin for sportsmanship, Aiden Durham for sharpshooting, Sean Jones for archery, and Ethan Couch for fishing skills. For the New Castle County class, award recipients were Tyrone Brown for leadership, Walker Weiss for sportsmanship, Kolin Kaiser for sharpshooting, Walter Samuels for archery, and Harry Long for fishing skills.

At the Advanced Youth Academy, students acquired skills for camping, fishing and hunting, and were exposed to various aspects of a Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. Students obtained their turkey hunter certification, assisted wildlife biologists with capturing and banding mourning doves, assisted fisheries biologists with pond seining, participated in shotgun and rifle target shooting, a fishing derby and bird watching, and camped at Lums Pond State Park’s primitive campground. To finish up the camp, students participated in a public outreach event with officers displaying the Operation Game Theft trailer at Cabela’s in Newark.

Students who completed the New Castle County Advanced Youth Academy were Aaron Bartsch, of Townsend; Brooke Boileau, of Middletown; Gavin Bradley, of Middletown; Bradyn Coleman, of Newark; Zoe Given, of Middletown; Kolin Kaiser, of Middletown; Hunter Landry, of Magnolia; Harry Long, of Wilmington; Gabrielle Marrero, of Bear; Kieran Morris, of Middletown; Domenick Rathoff, of Bear; Harrison Rathoff, of Bear; Emily Scott, of Middletown; Heather Scott, of Middletown; and Walker Weiss, of Selbyville.

In addition to the Advanced Youth Academy students receiving their turkey hunter education certificate at graduation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police instructors presented awards to Walker Weiss for sportsmanship, Aaron Bartsch for sharpshooting, and Zoe Given for fishing skills as well as leadership.

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police thank the following sponsors who helped make this year’s youth academies possible: Cabela’s, Freemire & Associates of Camden, PSC Contracting Inc., Safari Club International – Delaware Valley Chapter, and Logo Motive Custom Apparel.

For more, visit dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/pages/enforcement.aspx.