This week’s UMM Alumni Spotlight shines on Joseph McBrine, Jr., of East Machias, Class of 1994 with a degree in Outdoor Recreation Management.
Joe is a sergeant with the Maine Warden Service and owns his own woodcarving business.
Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now:
I worked as a Deputy Maine Game Warden while attending UMM. Since graduating, I have worked full time as a Maine Game Warden for 20 years. I am the game warden assigned to the Whiting patrol which includes Edmunds Twp., Marion Twp., Trescott Twp., Lubec and Cutler. I often patrol a much larger area to meet scheduling needs.
My job is primarily law enforcement. We enforce laws that regulate hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiles, and ATVs.
We focus on apprehending intentional violator of the fish and game laws and violations relating to recreational vehicles and watercraft. Quite often we are the first responders to all types of criminal or emergency incidents. Once violators are apprehended, we investigate the scene, gather the facts, write a case report and work with the local district attorney’s office to move the case through district court or superior court.
Search and Rescue is another important part of the work of a game warden. I was introduced to search and rescue while attending UMM. I attended the SAR course and joined the local volunteer search and rescue team. Search and rescue can be very rewarding, but it can also be difficult when there is a tragedy.
The work is very rewarding, but you need to have thick skin and not be afraid to confront people who are in violation. Some of the more serious law breakers will dislike you for what you stand for, or I suppose you could say for what you won’t stand for.
I speak at several job fairs, sporting shows, clubs and schools. These talks include warden recruitment, outdoor education, and promoting the state of Maine.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?
It is hard to pick out one thing as the most valuable that I learned at UMM. The whole package that you receive at UMM is what makes you successful. Obviously the canoeing, boating, snowshoeing and map & compass classes prepared me for game warden work, but the business management, writing, and speaking courses were just as important for me to be successful.
I learned how to be a good applicant and a good employee. This may sound cliché but they did teach me to work hard and to care about my employer. I remember several conversations in management classes about preventing or reducing liability on us as employees and for our employers.
I am thankful for the hands-on learning in labs that UMM offers as part of their course work.
Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?
You should be preparing to compete in the hiring process of your chosen field. Work towards being the best applicant. Take advantage of the learning opportunities that UMM offers that might not be directly connected to a course. Get all of the certifications and licenses that are offered for you chosen field.
Remember that employers like to hear that you have done the hands-on work and not only studied it during a class. UMM offers several opportunities for students to lead programs and run activities. Participate in as many of those activities as possible.
How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?
UMM provided me with the wide range of skills I needed to complete a very difficult hiring process with the Maine Warden Service. When I applied there were about 2,000 other applicants. We competed for 8 positions. UMM gave me the knowledge and experience to become a successful applicant. The outdoor course work also gave me the confidence that I needed to navigate the woods and waters of our state – day or night – rain, snow or sunshine. I had already done it in class under supervision.
A critical part of my job is writing various types of reports. I learned those writing skills at UMM. I was fortunate to have two good writing instructors that helped me to enjoy writing.
The smaller size of UMM creates an environment where everyone knows each other. This allows for professors to write letters of recommendation that have real value. I found that the professors were already connected with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Maine Warden Service. When the UMM Professors praised a student’s abilities – the potential employers listened.
How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?
I met my wife, Lori, there. She is a graduate of UMM and my daughter Olivia is presently a student at UMM.
While at UMM, I made connections with fellow students and instructors that still benefit me in my work and personal life to this day.
There was no Conservation Law program when I attended UMM. I made it known to the faculty at UMM that I had one career goal and that was to become a Maine Game Warden. They provided the necessary learning environment to reach my goal. One very beneficial area where they pushed me was to use elective courses to gain extra experience in my chosen field.