Department of Natural Resources
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division is currently accepting candidates from all backgrounds to apply for its 10th Conservation Officer Academy, scheduled to begin later this spring.
All applicants who successfully complete the academy will graduate in the fall of 2021.
New this year, a “hybrid” academy is being offered to anyone who is currently certified or certifiable by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) and meets the DNR’s hiring requirements.
“This hybrid academy will allow eligible recruits to complete a shortened training academy focusing on conservation officer specific laws and functions,” said F/Lt. Jason Wicklund, DNR Law Enforcement Division.
All other applicants will be eligible for the traditional DNR conservation officer academy, which will fulfill the MCOLES basic training requirements for holding a law enforcement license and training specific to becoming a conservation officer.
The 2021 conservation officer academy will be based at the DNR’s Ralph A. MacMullan Center (Roscommon). Additional training locations may take place at Camp Grayling (Gaylord) and at the Michigan State Police Training Academy (Dimondale). Virtual training will also be utilized when appropriate to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
“Our main priority is keeping recruits healthy so they can focus on the academy and training,” Wicklund said.
Previous law enforcement, fishing, and hunting experience is not required to become a conservation officer, nor is a college education.
“Our instructors are the best at what they do,” Wicklund said. “We want to see applicants succeed and will provide recruits everything they need to be successful.”
Conservation Officer Jackie Miskovich was one of six women to successfully complete the DNR’s 2018 conservation officer academy.
"Completing the conservation officer academy was extremely rewarding," said Miskovich, who now patrols Muskegon County. "It was by far the toughest task I have ever gone through. I accomplished things physically and mentally that I did not know I could do. It has all been worth it to become a CO."
Conservation Officer Cole VanOosten, who now patrols Luce County, also graduated in December 2018.
"Looking back, the academy is one of the best things I have ever gone through and it helped me mature in many aspects of my life," VanOosten said. "It was not easy, but it transformed me into a better person, as well as a more equipped conservation officer. You receive world-class training and the instructors truly care about making you into the best officer you can be."
During the academy, recruits will become State of Michigan employees and receive biweekly paychecks while collecting benefits and retirement.
The Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division is a veteran-friendly employer and is committed to protecting Michigan’s natural resources and the environment, and the health and safety of the public through effective law enforcement and education.
The State of Michigan is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, age, disability, or other factors prohibited by law.
Photo: Recruits learn how to conduct safe stops during ORV training (November 2018).