WINSLOW — When Scott Martin was a student at Stearns High School in Millinocket, a guidance counselor showed him a comparison between the salary earned by a typical game warden — the profession he preferred — and a typical engineer.
Martin got the message: The next fall, he began studying engineering at the University of Maine.
It didn’t take Martin long before he reconsidered. It took longer before he began the career path he’d always planned.
But on Tuesday, the 12-year veteran of the Maine Warden Service showed he had made the correct decision: Martin was named the state’s Warden of the Year, as selected by his peers, during an annual awards ceremony held at the Winslow VFW hall.
“When I knew what a game warden was and I knew what they did, I wanted to be one,” the 38-year-old Martin said. “I spent my whole lifetime, growing up, in the outdoors, trapping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, whatever. I always liked being outside, always was comfortable there. And I always thought there was a need for protecting the resource that the state has.”
Joel Wilkinson, chief of the Maine Warden Service, said the committee charged with choosing the Warden of the Year always faces a challenge.
“It’s hard to pick any individual warden for this award, but collectively it represents the good, the hard, strong work ethic of everybody that works for us, the resilience, the focus on their work and their commitment to their profession of conservation law enforcement,” Wilkinson said.
With those qualities serving as the template for the award, Wilkinson said Martin, who patrols the Matagamon Region, was a perfect choice as the state’s Warden of the Year.
“I think he represents the quality of the entire organization,” Wilkinson said. “He’s a great guy, a humble guy who works hard. He’s got an absolutely dedicated work ethic to conservation law enforcement. He could do anything he wanted to do. He’s a talented carpenter, he’s a bright guy, he’s focused, he’s organized. But he committed completely to the warden service and since we hired him he’s been there 100 percent.”
Martin said receiving the award from his peers was special, but noted that it reflects the achievement of a team, rather than a single individual.
“It’s very humbling to be named Warden of the Year with as much talent and dedication is out within this room,” Martin said. “It’s not all about me. It’s about teamwork, about the guys around me, about the guys who are willing to jump in and help get the job done when the time comes.”
During the event warden pilot Daryl Gordon, who died in a plane crash on March 24, was remembered with a presentation that featured candid home videos of him flying and interacting with family members as well as professional video footage of his funeral.
In other awards, retired warden pilot Andy Stinson was named Legendary Game Warden and Warden Lt. Tom Ward was named Supervisor of the Year.
Also honored during the event: Warden Paul Farrington and his K9, Koda, for K9 Conservation Case of the Year; Warden Michelle Merrifield and her K9, Duchess, for K9 Search and Rescue of the Year. Exemplary service awards were handed out to wardens Kevin Anderson, Bill Livezey, Peter Herring, Ron Dunham, Andy Glidden, Jim Davis, Jason Luce, Norman Lewis, Jeremy Judd, Tony Gray, Dave Chabot and Mike Pierre. Meritorious service awards went to wardens Rick LaFlamme, Ron Dunham and Joey Lefebvre. The colonel’s award was given to officer Tom Park of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Receiving separate merit honors from the Maine State Wardens Association were Jim and Lori Geib of New Frontier Taxidermy, Avian Haven, Dana Emunds, and Bob Baribeau and the organization he represents, Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue Team.