The Department of Agriculture (DOAG) held an Oath of Office and Badge Pinning Ceremony for the first-ever Civilian Volunteer Conservation Officer Reserve (CVCOR) program on December 16, 2020. The “Oath of Office” was administered by DOAG Director Chelsa Muna-Brecht and each Conservation Officer Reservist was pinned by either a family member or friend.
DOAG Law Enforcement Section successfully applied for and received grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management through Guam’s FY 19-20, Coral Reef Conservation Program. The program is administered by the Bureau of Statistics and Plans (BSP).
Senator Pedo Terlaje attended the ceremony and pinned his grandson, Joey Terlaje Jr. Senator Terlaje spoke to attendees and reminded all, “The reserve program was first established in 1975 under then-Speaker Joseph Ada. Our world at the time was turned upside down by Typhoon Pamela. Yours comes as the world is turned upside down by a pandemic, and by an island swept by economic uncertainty. I commend you for taking responsibility and stepping up to serve at this time of uncertainty…”
Although the program was established in 1975, this federal grant funding is the first funds DOAG LES has received to support enhance its patrols.
Deputy Director of Agriculture had poignant words for the new reservists, “Those of you here now who have agreed to be Conservation Reservists- the first in our History, have a great responsibility which you have chosen to undertake. The Department of Agriculture plants trees under whose shade we will never sit under in our lifetimes, and each one of you are guardians not only of all beings which make our island unique- its plants, animals, its oceans and rivers. You are the stewards of the inheritance that all of us will pass on to generations of people who have not been born yet. Pues in hora Buena para hamyo todu yan si Yu’us un inadahi gi che’cho miyu. STAY VIGILANT WE’RE ALL COUNTING ON YOU.”
The magnitude of the impact these reservists will have for our island was emphasized by DOAG Director Chelsa Muna-Brecht. “Our work does not just protect the people of our community, but the very soil and land that we walk on and grow our food, the water that we drink, swim in, and fish for our foods; the birds and animals in our jungles that create our island’s uniqueness. You are now the protectors of our island. To love our island, our community, is the sum total of your job. When you love something, you protect it and help it thrive. That is what you have the privilege of calling your job. To work at the Department of Agriculture is an absolute honor. Welcome.”
The Conservation Reservists will complete training this weekend and out patrolling with Conservation Officers immediately thereafter. Reservists are required to complete 42 hours of service each month for one year. They receive a stipend of $250 each month, which is not on par with other law enforcement agencies whose reservists receive stipends of $500. Senator Pedo Terlaje has committed to correcting this imbalance.