December 4, 2008
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
"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
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
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
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.