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Florida FWC Officer Receives Several Awards

December 4, 2008

Florida Wildlife OfficerOfficer Robert B. Johnston of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) received several awards during the December Commission meeting in Key West.

Johnston, of Levy County, is the FWC's Officer of the Year.

"His extensive knowledge of the coastal and inland waterways of Levy County helps people enjoy and use the resources, and he keeps that area safe," said Col. Julie Jones, FWC's Division of Law Enforcement director. "Last year, Officer Johnston participated in eight search-and-rescue missions."

Johnston also received the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Officer of the Year Award and the Shikar-Safari Club International Officer of the Year Award. His exemplary work on the water and in the woods earned him recognition from both groups.

Ted Forsgren, executive director of the CCA, presented the award to Johnston.

"The CCA is proud to recognize the excellent work of the FWC's law enforcement officers, and without the dedicated work of officers like Robert Johnston, the conservation measures that we work to put in place could not achieve their intended goals," Forsgren said.

Jack Beal and Jim Harrison, members of Shikar-Safari Club International, presented their award to Johnston.

"Our club is interested in conservation issues, and we are all on the same team," Beal said. "We are very serious about conservation enforcement, and the officers, like Officer Johnston, need to be recognized and rewarded for what they do. We support conservation all over the world, and the way the United States manages wildlife is the envy of the world. Conservation officers are our champions who do the work."

Johnston is originally from Byron, N.Y. and grew up hunting and fishing there. After graduating from college, he spent two years as a missionary in Slovenia and Croatia and two years as a missionary in Puerto Rico.

Because of his love of the outdoors, in 2004 Johnston moved his family to Florida to pursue a career with the FWC. He currently works in Levy County and patrols five wildlife management areas and the backwaters of Cedar Key.

"Officer Johnston exemplifies an FWC officer," said Jones. "He patrols a vast expanse of land and water, day and night and under the most adverse conditions. He loves his job, he makes solid cases, and he cares about our natural resources and people."

Johnston and his wife have three children and have just adopted a daughter from the foster care system. He also does speaking engagements at local schools and has taught hunter education classes.

Some of the cases Johnston has made include taking deer during closed season, hunting by gun and light at night, taking turkey during the closed season, taking turkey over bait, hunting over bait in a management area, shooting from a roadway, illegal use of deer dogs, undersized and/or over the bag limit of redfish, grouper, shark, black drum, mullet, largemouth bass and spotted sea trout, illegal commercial harvest of oysters, commercially harvesting/selling with no saltwater products license, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of cannabis, cultivation of cannabis, manufacturing of methamphetamine and felony dumping.

In 2007, he was recognized by the Chiefland Women's Club as the Levy County Wildlife Officer of the Year.

"He makes us proud." Jones said. "People like Officer Johnston are few and far between."

The CCA began in 1977 and is a non-profit organization, comprising 17 coastal state chapters spanning the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Its members are saltwater anglers who are dedicated to the conservation, promotion and restoration of coastal marine resources. The CCA also recognizes officers in Florida regionally, throughout the year.

Shikar-Safari Club International presents annual awards to wildlife law enforcement officers in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces and the territories of both nations. Founded in 1952, it works to advance the knowledge of wildlife worldwide and to enhance and preserve wildlife. The club has placed particular emphasis on endangered and threatened species through the promotion and enforcement of conservation laws and regulations.


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