Athens Technical College establishes a conservation law program
Date: Dec 15,2021
(Elberton, Ga.) Athens Technical College is looking for students who are looking to explore the outdoors through a new conservation law enforcement program. The associate of applied science program combines courses and fisheries and wildlife sciences with criminal justice, preparing graduates to go into jobs including game wardens, park rangers and conservation technicians.
Offered at ATC’s Elbert County campus, the program is situated in a prime location for students to identify wildlife and get hands-on outdoor experience operating an ATV, powerboat and other equipment. The degree also includes an internship requirement to provide insight into wildlife management applications.
Graduates of the program are eligible to enter the ranks of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, which is eagerly seeking employees to fill game warden roles across the state. The median salary for the industry is about $58,000 nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Known as peace officers “off the pavement,” these POST-certified officers patrol and enforce state and federal laws, rules and regulations.
Alexia Goodman was recently hired as the conservation law enforcement program chair and brings a wealth of knowledge as a certified Associate Wildlife Biologist through The Wildlife Society. She has worked in numerous conservation, environmental education and veterinary assistant roles around the state.
“We are delighted to have Alexia join us and begin this program to support Georgia DNR and other agencies to fill these in-demand roles,” said ATC President Andrea Daniel. “We jumped at the opportunity to offer this program that will keep our rural communities safe and habitats healthy.”
Goodman has a master of science in conservation medicine from Tufts University and a bachelor of science in fisheries and wildlife sciences from the University of Georgia.
“I was drawn to this program and Athens Tech because I want to make a positive impact on the next generation of natural resource managers in Georgia,” said Goodman. “I am excited to make the program accessible for as many people as possible so we can recruit a diverse group of students into the conservation field. I’m also looking forward to using the program to make the Athens Tech community more aware of the wildlife that lives in their backyard and the conservation issues that impact people, animals and the environment that we all share.”
Captain Mark Padgett retired five years ago as a region supervisor for Georgia DNR and joined ATC in fall 2021 as an adjunct instructor for the program, bringing extensive industry knowledge to the program.
“You have a better background going into law enforcement when you have an education background — I think it’s needed,” said Padgett. “I wish this had been around when I was in school. I’m really excited about this program and where it’s going heading.”
Padgett, who taught and coached football in Elbert County Schools before going into law enforcement, enjoyed the flexibility and freedom the job offered.
“If you’re the type of person who can handle the freedom of not being in the office every day, and be productive on your own, it’s a great job,” he said. “First and foremost, we look for people that are self-starters that are mature enough to handle situations on their own. With the nature of the work you have to be self-sufficient, so we also look for a lot of common sense and willingness to learn. It’s a bit of a tough process to get hired, but [the outdoors] is a wonderful office.”
Classes for Athens Technical College’s spring semester begin January 10. For more information on the program or to apply, visit www.AthensTech.edu or call the Elbert Campus at 706-213-2100.
Cutline: Alexia Goodman has been hired as the program chair for the new conservation law enforcement program at Athens Technical College's Elbert County Campus.