Maine game warden Jim Fahey surveys the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor during the summer of 2012. Credit: John Holyoke / BDN

I was a junior at Bangor High School during the fall of 1986. I was enrolled in a wildlife biology class taught by Mr. John Morgan. His class was only for one semester, but I learned more about Maine biology, fish and wildlife resources than I did in any other class I ever took, period.

That includes four years at the University of Maine in Orono, in the College of Forest Resources program, and six weeks at the Maine Warden Service Advanced Warden School held at the Washington County Technical College, Calais and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Baring.

Mr. Morgan’s comprehensive curriculum included identification of Maine fish and wildlife species, their biology, as well as ecology, tree identification and everything Maine. I was a sponge and absorbed it all. Needless to say, I was interested and motivated to learn. I did well.

In the spring of 1987, Mr. Morgan made me aware of a new program called SERVE Maine — State Environmental Resource Volunteer Effort.

He provided me with an application and encouraged me to apply for one of the 10 positions available to high school students. I did and was selected to work for six weeks over the summer between my junior and senior year in high school. I was assigned to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Headquarters in Bangor at the old Hedin Hall, next to Bangor Mental Health Institute.

I spent three weeks with the Fisheries Division and Maine Atlantic Sea Run Salmon Commission and three weeks with the Wildlife Division. I assisted fisheries biologist Fred Kircheis, technician Clarissa “Cricky” (Graham) Trasko and assistant Merryman Johns with various research projects, including the environmental impact study of the reintroduction of alewives to Lake George in Canaan and trawling for young of the year smelts and togue in central Maine on a modified Boston Whaler boat.

I was also able to electrofish for Atlantic salmon fry and parr with biologists Norm Dube, Randy Spencer and assistant Dana Valleau in the Machias River watershed. That wasn’t all. I banded ducks on the Penobscot River with wildlife biologist Pat Corr, Brad Allen and technician Lindsay Tudor. I also went along with biologists Randy Cross, Craig McLaughlin, Mark Caron and then contract worker Alan Starr trapping bears in LaGrange for Maine’s now famous black bear research project. It was an action-packed summer.

The contacts I made were invaluable. I went on to work as a winter creel census clerk, summer fisheries assistant, seasonal Warden Service dispatcher, conservation aide, deputy game warden and district game warden.

The SERVE Maine program, championed by Maine Legislator Paul Jacques, was designed to expose young Mainers to various environmental resource projects and influence them to pursue an outdoor related career. It certainly did that. I am living proof.

I would like to publicly thank Mr. Morgan for his excellent instruction and guidance all those years ago. He is retired now and lives in Hudson. I have stayed in touch with him and know he is still active in the outdoors. I would also like to thank all the others I mentioned, and some I didn’t, for their willingness to teach a young person about their profession and projects. As a game warden, I would often relay this work history to young audiences I would speak to as an example that it is never too early to begin thinking of, and planning for, a career.

Additionally, there are potential mentors everywhere eager to share their experience and knowledge with the next generation. It was a privilege to “SERVE” Maine.

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Jim Fahey, Outdoors contributor

Jim Fahey worked for the Maine Warden Service as a seasonal dispatcher, deputy and full-time game warden from 1990 to 2019. He patrolled districts in Aroostook and Penobscot counties.