Ten members of the Conservation Officer Service have been awarded the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal by the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lt-Gov. of British Columbia and Environment Minister Terry Lake.
Five of the ten distinguished members of the Conservation Officer Service - inspector Jeff Ginter and conservation officers James Barber, Mike Stern, James Hilgemann and Del Parker - received their awards in the presence of colleagues from around the province today at the Vancouver Police Department's Tactical Training Centre for their annual recertification training.
The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal recognizes peace officers who have completed 20 years of exemplary service with organizations that employ peace officers, including the Conservation Officer Service. A bar may be awarded for every subsequent period of 10 years of qualifying service.
The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal was created on June 22, 2004.
The Ministry of Environment's Conservation Officer Service is the Province's primary responder to human-wildlife conflicts where there is a risk to public safety, conservation concerns or where significant property damage has occurred. In addition to regular uniformed members, the Conservation Officer Service's Provincial Investigations Branch conducts large-scale industrial or commercial crime investigations.
Environment Minister Terry Lake -
"Conservation officers are leaders here in British Columbia. Each officer works hard to protect our environment and reduce human-wildlife conflicts. Congratulations to those members of the Conservation Officer Service awarded with this great honour. These officers have demonstrated excellence, courage and exceptional dedication to the service."
Chief conservation officer Kelly Larkin -
"Conservation officers are leaders in environmental compliance and enforcement, shared stewardship and public safety. There are many members within the service who go well beyond the call of duty, and I am extremely proud of those honoured with the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal."
For more information on Exemplary Service Medals, please visit: www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=14992&lan=eng
For more information about the Conservation Officer Service, please visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Environment
Exemplary conservation officers honoured
For the past six years, inspector Jeff Ginter has led the Conservation Officer Service in the Peace region. Previously, the married father of two was the general duty conservation officer for Sechelt and Dawson Creek.
Conservation officer James Barber has cultivated many relationships in Creston over the past 21 years. Barber is fondly known as a conversation officer by many members of the community for his professional communication and problem-solving skills. He is married to his wife Ila.
Mike Stern began his career with the Conservation Officer Service in 1992 working in Nanaimo, Surrey and Port Alberni. He currently serves as a conservation officer in Penticton, the place that it all started when, as a teenager, Stern spent time riding along with the Penticton conservation officers. Stern enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, preparing great meals and creating art. He is also an avid hunter and angler.
Being a dedicated conservation officer has given James Hilgemann the opportunity to work in a number of diverse environments. He has spent 16 years as a conservation officer in Haida Gwaii and currently serves in Campbell River, where he lives with his family.
Del Parker received an exemplary service award after 20 years in the Conservation Officer Service and today he is being recognized for an additional 10 years - making 30 years of exemplary service. Parker currently serves as a conservation officer in Fort St. John where he lives with his family. Parker leads by example and his own son Blake has followed in his footsteps and is also a conservation officer.
An expert in predator attack investigations, Kevin Van Damme is a leader on the Conservation Officer Service Predator Attack Team. As a conservation officer of over 20 years, Van Damme has worked in Surrey, Clearwater and currently serves in Kamloops. He is married with a young family.
Edward Seitz started his career with the service in Nelson in 1992 and currently serves as a conservation officer in Kelowna. Seitz is often referred to as Steady Eddy by his friends and co-workers because of his ability to focus on the positive and put people at ease. Seitz has put these traits to good use as a defensive tactics and firearms instructor. The married father of two enjoys his time in the Chilcotin hunting and fishing.
Over his 20 years with the Conservation Officer Service, Gerry Lister has served in Quesnel and Atlin. Currently, he works as a conservation officer in Powell Rover. Lister also worked with BC Parks for 10 years and is the self-proclaimed historian of the Conservation Officer Service.
Tobe Sprado is a recent recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for over 20 years of experience with the Conservation Officer Service. His postings include the Lower Mainland, New Hazleton, Smithers, Atlin, Castlegar and now Kamloops. Sprado has children ranging in ages from toddler to teens with his wife Theresa. He is currently on the sergeant list for a promotion.
Al Lay has been considered an international expert on human-wildlife conflict and was responsible for setting up the Provincial Predator Conflict Prevention program. Lay began his career in Prince George and transferred to Williams Lake as the problem wildlife control officer for the Cariboo Chilcotin. In 1998, he transferred to the Princeton field office as the district conservation officer. During his 32-year career with the Conservation Officer Service, he was responsible for instructing many new officers in the art of trapping. Lay retired in March 2012 and remains in Princeton with his wife Dawn where he continues to hunt, fish and spend time with his family.
Ministry of Environment