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Joshua K. Veloski recently graduated from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s 22nd Basic School for Uniformed Officers, and is one of the state’s newest ECOs.

By Deb Everts

Joshua K. Veloski is one of New York State’s newest Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECO).

The Springville native is among 44 new officers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s 22nd Basic School for Uniformed Officers that graduated Dec. 6 in a formal ceremony in the Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

A career in the great outdoors was inspired by Veloski’s father and grandfather who had him outside all the time hunting, fishing and camping as a kid growing up.

Veloski said it was an early goal for him and he’s wanted to do this type of job for as long as he can remember — even as far back as middle school.

“Another thing that inspired me was one of my friends who wanted to be a law enforcement officer,” he said. “He ended up getting into the Erie County Sheriff’s Office while I chose a path and stuck with the outdoors. I became an ECO so I could be both a law enforcement officer and also enforce the fish and wildlife laws.”

According to a press release from the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the Basic School began May 19 and ran for 29 weeks at the DEC Office of Public Protection’s Training Academy in Pulaski, Oswego County, located along the Salmon River.

Training and coursework included Environmental Conservation Law, criminal procedure, vehicle and traffic laws, physical conditioning, firearms, wildlife identification, emergency vehicle operations, search and rescue, land navigation, boating and wildfire suppression.

“Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers work in communities across the state to protect and preserve New York’s abundant natural resources,” Governor Cuomo said. “I congratulate the men and women who graduated today and am confident these officers will carry on New York’s rich tradition of environmental stewardship as they protect the health and safety of New Yorkers and visitors alike.”

The graduating class joins the ranks of 275 ECOs and 131 FRs currently serving across the state. Recruits in this newest class were selected from an eligible list of qualifications and passing scores generated from the most recent Civil Service exam, which was given in 2016.

Veloski, who was one of 30 ECOs and 14 forest rangers in the class, said they all go through the same school and work together, but the ECOs and rangers also have a lot of their own classes that are geared specifically for them.

Originally from Gowanda and most recently of Springville, Veloski is currently living in Queens in New York City. At age 24, he has already started his dream job in Bronx County.

Now that he is out of the academy and has his assignment, he is required to go through an eight-week training portion with a field training officer doing actual work in the field.

“We carry out the usual duties of an ECO, but we focus on more specific things in the city,” he said. “We do less deer-jacking [hunting and killing deer outside of season, hunting hours or without a hunting license] and poaching — things like that. Our focus is more marine, fisheries, boats, recreational and commercial. We also do a lot of environmental quality work with trucks, hazardous materials, spills and that sort of thing.”

A graduate of Gowanda Central School, Veloski received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management and Policy from Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, in 2017.

He previously worked for ACRT, based in Akron, Ohio, and contracted with National Grid working in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties. He was also employed at Tree Care of New York after and before attending the academy.

Veloski is the son of Donald and Denise Veloski of Collins. He has a sister, Dayna.

To learn more about the qualifications and job description for Environmental Conservation Officer, visit the DEC website at dec.ny.gov.