NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NWTF named Conservation Agent Jeff Berti of Trenton, Mo., the 2013 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at the 38th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show. Midway USA was the official show sponsor.
Berti, a 20-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Conservation who has served 19 years in Grundy County, also won the NWTF's Missouri State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
In 2013, Berti documented 248 resource violations, made more than 112 arrests, and 31 assisted arrests. His efforts resulted in the detection of 42 violations and 30 arrests for illegally killing wild turkeys in a single five-month period.
Berti, who was in Nashville for the ceremony, had no previous knowledge he had won.
"I'm most proud of being able to hunt with my dad and will take my daughters hunting soon," said Berti, who was stunned to learn he'd won a national award. "I became a wildlife officer because I grew up hunting and fishing. As hunters, we all must work together to save wildlife habitat. Otherwise, our way of life will disappear."
The NWTF determined this year's award winners based on how their work strengthens the organization's new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. Initiative.
"Agent Berti is an outstanding example of someone who recognizes the importance of conserving wildlife and habitat, and preserving our hunting heritage," said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. "His dedication to upholding game laws and reaching potential hunters is impressive. We commend his service, and are proud to honor him with this award."
Berti's dedication extends beyond his duties as a conservation agent. He's also an NWTF volunteer who played an instrumental part in forming the local NWTF Green Hills Chapter in 1999. Since then, Berti has served as chapter president and banquet chairman, and is currently treasurer. He helped initiate the local chapter's first JAKES, Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin' Sportsmen outreach events, and has assisted with each event since then.
Berti is actively involved in educating youth in outdoor pursuits. He works with The National FFA organization, and is a hunter education and National Archery in the Schools Program instructor. He's also beloved by local children for capturing a stray bat at their school, offering an impromptu program about the animals, and then safely releasing the bat.
Timothy Brooks, president of the NWTF George Clark Missouri State Chapter, nominated Berti for the NWTF national award. Brooks cited efficiency, professionalism, thoroughness and lack of prejudice among Berti's strengths. He is well-known and esteemed throughout the community he serves for his exceptional rapport with other conservation agencies and for maintaining a respectful attitude, even when issuing citations or making arrests.
The NWTF's Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. Initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to give the NWTF more energy and purpose than ever. Through this national initiative, NWTF has committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million new hunters and open access to 500,000 new acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment. Without hunters, there will be no wildlife or habitat. The NWTF is determined to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.
For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award or other convention highlights, contact Melanie Swearingen of the NWTF at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 637-7634.