Department of Natural Resources
Several communities throughout Michigan are gaining new conservation officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Since graduating in December from the DNR’s 23-week Conservation Officer Recruit School, located in Lansing, the officers have been traveling the state completing their field training program, gaining diverse experience as probationary conservation officers.
“The process for becoming a Michigan DNR conservation officer includes several phases,” said F/Lt. Jason Wicklund. “We want to ensure that our new officers are able to apply what they learned in the academy and use those skills in real-life scenarios, in addition to learning new skills from the field training officers they are partnered with.”
The new conservation officers received their permanent county assignment prior to graduating from the academy. After graduation, conservation officers must complete three phases of probationary training before they move into their permanent county assignment.
While their primary mission is to enforce fish, game and natural resource protection laws, conservation officers serve a unique role as certified peace officers with authority to enforce all of Michigan’s criminal laws. Because of their specialized training and equipment, conservation officers often are first responders to situations involving medical emergencies, missing persons and public safety threats.
The academy involved off-road training to operate specialized vehicles, such as four-wheel-drive trucks, ORVs, snowmobiles and patrol boats – everyday tools used by conservation officers to patrol Michigan’s natural resources. Recruits took several trips to specialized training locations throughout Michigan, including the Camp Grayling Training Center, the GM Proving Grounds in Milford and the Ingham County Jail, in addition to completing scenario testing at several parks.
Founded in 1887, the DNR Law Enforcement Division is Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency. Learn more about the work of conservation officers and explore the Recruit School #9 weekly blog posts and photos at michigan.gov/conservationofficers.
“The West side of the UP is one of the most remote and rural regions in Michigan,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in the West side of the UP. “Our new conservation officers will be available to provide policing assistance in these small communities – an added benefit to local law enforcement agencies.”
“My love for hunting and fishing started at an early age, influenced by my father and brothers,” said Conservation Officer Ariel Corr. “I am dedicated to everything that I hold close to my heart and confident that I will be able help teach others about all of the great things Michigan has to offer.”
“Growing up in the UP, I realize how important the natural resources are and how lucky I was growing up to live in an area known for its vast natural environment,” said Conservation Officer Byron Parks. “When the severe flooding happened in my hometown last summer, I saw conservation officers helping those in need. I want to be there to help my community in the same way.”
“I look forward to working with the people in my community who are passionate about the natural resources,” said Conservation Officer Anna Viau. “But conservation officers can’t be everywhere, so it’s important to share our knowledge with the people we meet, so they can help advocate for the natural resources, too.”
“New conservation officers infuse the area with a youthful outlook and perspective,” said Lt. Skip Hagy, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in East side of the UP. “It’s very exciting to see the future of the DNR Law Enforcement Division in the hands of this group, who are full of positive attitudes. Our state is in good hands.”
“I want to be good at my job and earn the respect from members of my community and fellow officers,” said Conservation Officer Andrea Dani. “I want to do everything I can to protect the natural resources so future generations can enjoy them as much as I have.”
“I became a conservation officer to combine my hobbies, prior life experiences and a career, into one,” said Conservation Officer Michael Olesen. “I have the opportunity to give back to the State of Michigan by protecting those who partake in the recreational activities and the land in which those activities are enjoyed.”
“I hope to establish a positive relationship with my community,” said Conservation Officer Breanna Reed. “I want people to know who I am and feel as if they are able to come to me when they need answers.”
“At a young age, I recall numerous hunting trips with my dad,” said Conservation Officer Todd Sumbrera. “I was taught to respect the wildlife and the animals that were hunted. I intend to learn and grow in the field to be the best conservation officer that I can.”
“I’m excited to be in Luce County,” said Conservation Officer Cole VanOosten. “There’s thousands of acres of state land. It’s a great spot to develop as a conservation officer. Many great officers have worked in this county and it’s an honor to follow in their footsteps.”
“Dan comes from a long line of outdoorsmen and sportsmen,” said Lt. Jim Gorno, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Northern Michigan. “Dan follows in his father’s footsteps, who served over 25 years as a conservation officer. Having much experience growing up hunting and fishing, Dan brings fair and dedicated service to the people and sportsmen of northern Michigan.”
“Conservation Officer Jon Sheppard brings youth, enthusiasm and dedication to conservation law enforcement and to Northern Michigan,” said Lt. Jim Gorno, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Northern Michigan. “Jon is an outdoorsman, has a great work ethic and is fair when it comes to serving the people of the state of Michigan. Please welcome Jon to his new assignment.”
“My father began his career as a Michigan Conservation Officer when I was very young and it has been a part of my life ever since,” said Conservation Officer Dan Liestenfeltz. “I’m excited to be in an area where I can make a difference by being part of a community and earning their respect.”
“Every year my dad and I would go grouse hunting near Houghton Lake,” said Conservation Officer Jon Sheppard. “Over the years, our favorite hunting spots stayed mostly the same. I want to be part of protecting someone’s favorite hunting or fishing spots for the future.”
“Michigan’s newest conservation officers have arrived in their assigned counties,” said Lt. Joe Molnar, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Northwest Michigan. “These dedicated men and women will help ensure Michigan’s residents and visitors have a safe, enjoyable experience while recreating in Michigan’s great outdoors.”
“I have enjoyed my time so far being a conservation officer in Osceola County and meeting and working with the local law enforcement agencies,” said Conservation Officer Tim Barboza. “I have enjoyed the many positive interactions with the community, as well as the opportunities to help where I can, by providing education or resources.”
“While I was an officer with a local sheriff’s office, I found myself often patrolling the back roads with my K9 partner,” said Conservation Officer Josh Reed. “I often encountered conservation officers and noticed the equipment they had and their knowledge of the area. I was impressed that they had everything they need to get the job done right.”
“I’m very excited to have CO Jesse Grzechowski as part of our central Northern Michigan team,” said Lt. Brandon Kieft, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in central Northern Michigan. “Jesse grew up vacationing in Alcona County –his knowledge of the area will be an extreme benefit to the DNR. He is passionate about our natural resources and will make a positive impact in the way we manage them.”
“I am excited to be a conservation officer in Alcona because I care about the citizens of this county, the history and the beautiful natural resources this county has to offer,” said Conservation Officer Jesse Grzechowski. “I’m very proud and passionate to protect and serve the people and the natural resources in this area of the state.”
“CO Adam Schiller brings new talent into the division,” said Lt. Jeremy Payne, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor for counties in the Midland, Bay City and Saginaw region. “Adam comes to the division with a wide range of outdoor experience and is dedicated to protecting the natural resources. As a Central Michigan University alum, Adam will make a difference in Gratiot County and the surrounding areas. We are excited to have him join our team in central Michigan.”
“I remember my first encounter with a conservation officer,” said Conservation Officer Adam Schiller. “I was 8-years-old and attending a Boy Scout meeting. A CO spoke to us about his job. After he finished, I had a plethora of questions for him. From that day on, I was determined to become a conservation officer.”
“I am pleased to welcome Conservation Officers Jackie Miskovich and Anna Cullen to the team,” said Lt. Gerald Thayer, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Southwest Michigan. “The new generation of conservation officers are highly trained and well diversified. Cullen and Miskovich will provide exceptional service to keep the citizens of Muskegon County safe and protect the area’s natural resources for future generations.”
“I’m excited to be a conservation officer in Muskegon County because it is where I grew up and where I have lived for most of my life. I know the area, as well as the people. I look forward to supporting and representing the people of Muskegon County as well as the Department as a whole.”
“As a conservation officer, I want to earn the respect from the people in my community, while effectively enforcing the state’s laws. I want to educate people about Michigan’s natural resources and what they can do to help sustain the resources for future generations to enjoy,” said Conservation Officer Jackie Miskovich. “I want to be a good example for people to look up to, someone to come to when they have questions or concerns.”
“We are excited to have three new conservation officers in our district,” said Lt. Andrew Turner, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Southern Mid-Michigan. “Southern Mid-Michigan is a very busy area and presents unique challenges related to the natural resources. Our new officers will allow us to be more responsive, provide better service and enhanced protection of the area’s resources.”
“I am excited to be in Eaton County to learn a new area, meet new people and new communities,” said Conservation Officer Nathan Beelman. “I am from a different part of the state and I’m excited to learn about the outdoor opportunities that there are in Eaton County and help make sure those opportunities are preserved to be enjoyed by future generations.”
“I have lived on a farm my whole life, so my love for the outdoors has been instilled in me from my very beginning,” said Conservation Officer James Nason. “I respect the natural resources, the outdoors and its inhabitants.”
“I wanted to take my law enforcement experience from the military and find a new way to challenge myself,” said Conservation Officer Edward Rice. “I spoke with a family friend who stated if he could do it all over again, he would become a conservation officer. I did some research and I believed becoming a CO would be the best job in the world.”
“I am pleased to introduce the newest conservation officers to Southeast Michigan, who are additions from the latest DNR Law Enforcement Division Recruit School,” said Lt. Todd Szyska, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Southeast Michigan. “These four officers join the ranks of one of the busiest and diverse natural resource areas in Michigan. Southeast Michigan houses some of the best fisheries in the world and is a vital waypoint for migratory waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway. Our new officers will fill critical vacancies in the area to help protect the natural resource laws and protect the citizens of this great state.”
“Serving the community has always been important to me,” said Conservation Officer Thomas Peterson. “I became a conservation officer so I can serve my community and protect the natural resources. I discovered a passion for the natural resources early in my adolescence and I want to ensure there will be a safe, quality place for people to enjoy in the future, just as I have.”
“My desire to become a conservation officer stems from more than my love for the outdoors,” said Conservation Officer Luke Robare. “I have always felt a sense of fulfillment after I helped someone, educated them or provided them with a sense of security. A career as a CO combines all of this.”
“One of the reasons I became a conservation officer, is because I want to protect Michigan’s fish and wildlife from poachers, so that future generations can be afforded the same great benefit that my grandfather, father and myself, have been able to enjoy,” said Conservation Officer Jaime Salisbury.
“Becoming a conservation officer allows me to blend my desire to serve as a law enforcement officer and my passion for the outdoors,” said Conservation Officer Brandon Vacek. “I want to help protect Michigan’s natural resources so I can share them with my kids and grandchildren.”