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Oct. 4, 2023

Officer Cernuto receiving award

FWC Officer Specialist Elisha Cernuto named Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Specialist Elisha Cernuto received the
2023 Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year award at the Commission Meeting in Jensen Beach today. Shikar-
Safari Club International is a conservation-based organization that presents awards annually to wildlife
law enforcement officers in all states, provinces and territories in the United States and Canada. The
annual award honors a state officer whose efforts show outstanding performance and achievement
among sworn conservation law enforcement personnel. 

Born and raised in Kentucky, Cernuto moved to Florida after graduating from high school. She joined
the FWC in 2016 after serving in the United States Coast Guard and working for the City of Palm
Beach Gardens as a police dispatcher.   

As a lead field training officer, Officer Cernuto collaborated with Mothers Against Drunk Driving,
drug recognition experts and an FWC boating accident investigator expert to develop a mentoring
program for new officers. The program establishes the importance of the FWC’s public safety mis-
sion regarding boating under the influence. She also serves as the BUI Task Force leader for her

“I think the most difficult part of receiving any award is thanking everyone you have such a debt
of gratitude to, especially when you are surrounded by such a great team. They have been so
supportive of all the goals we had on our BUI Task Force,” said Officer Cernuto. “I would be
remiss not to thank Senior Investigator Kyle Patterson. Most of the things that caused me to receive
this award were things that Kyle Patterson taught me, so this year and going forward everything
that I do is to try and honor his memory.” 

Officer Specialist Cernuto deployed for hurricanes Irma, Michael and Ian. During her Hurricane
Ian deployment, she played an integral role in overcoming technology communication challenges.
Her coordinated approach and experience provided critical information to officers responding to
welfare checks and other high priority tasks. 

In 2022, in addition to her many duties, specialty positions, outreach involvement, awards and
accomplishments, she participated in four and organized six targeted enforcement details.
Cernuto made two major night hunting cases and maintained control of a BUI suspect’s vessel
and crew while coordinating a response to capture the subject after his attempt to flee. 

“Officer Specialist Cernuto is a standout leader who positively affects every operation and
person she works with. Her ability to influence and bring out the best in others displays the
best FWC has to offer and creates a culture of success,” said Col. Brian Smith, director of
the FWC Division of Law Enforcement. “It is an honor to present her with this award.” 

When not on duty, Cernuto spends time outdoors with her husband and son. She especially
enjoys cycling, hiking and reading and is an active youth leader, facilities maintenance
volunteer and Sunday school teacher at her church.   

To learn more about becoming an FWC officer, visit and
click on “Employment” then “FWC Officers.” 

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QUESTIONS? Contact the FWC
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission ·
620 S. Meridian Street ·
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 ·

(850) 488-4676 GovDelivery logo
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