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Volunteer Recreational Safety Instructor

How to become a volunteer recreational safety instructor

Step 1: Pre-requisites

An individual who would like to become a volunteer instructor for any recreational safety program offered by the Michigan DNR must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Be a high school graduate or possess a graduate equivalency diploma (GED).
  • Must possess the student safety certificate in the program for which they are applying.
  • Have no felony convictions.
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions within the past three years.
  • Have no Natural Resource law convictions that could result in the revocation of license privileges within the last five years. Other convictions of Natural Resource law violations are subject to review and may result in the rejection of any application.
  • Have a background which is free of any negative implication or activity which would bring discredit to the recreational safety program(s) as determined by Recreational Safety, Education, and Enforcement Section (RSEES) staff. RSEES staff will conduct the background checks.
  • Have and maintain high moral character and ethical standards as determined by RSEES staff.

The process to become an instructor starts with an online application and once approved will include both virtual training (three modules) and an in-person training session (two days).  

Step 2: Apply online

Anyone interested in becoming an instructor and that meets ALL pre-requisites listed in step one, shall complete and submit the instructor application

Applicants are required to complete the entire application process within the required timeframes. Failure to complete the required training within the timeframes will result in the applicant being removed from the process.

Current instructors who wish to become certified in additional programs need to apply online, complete virtual Module 1 and attend an in-person training session. 

Under extreme circumstances and prior to a deadline, an applicant may request an extension. Applicants shall email RSEES at to request an application extension and provide justification for the extension. The RSEES administrator or their designee will review the extension request for approval or denial.

Once the completed application is submitted and received by the Department, a background investigation will be completed. If an applicant does not have a student recreational safety certificate in the program for which they are applying, they will not be able to proceed in the process until it is obtained. 

Step 3: Virtual training

If the applicant passes the background investigation, they will be notified via email and receive instructions and links with next steps, which is the virtual training. There are three virtual training modules, and they shall be completed in order. Virtual training topics include policy and procedure, Event Manager (how to post classes and submit class results), classroom management, and course materials.

Once Module 1 is complete, information and links will be sent for Module 2 and repeated for Module 3. Each module has built-in assessments that applicants must pass.

The virtual training, consisting of Modules 1-3, shall be completed within six months of the background check. 

Applicants will not be allowed to attend the in-person training until all three virtual modules are successfully completed. 

There is an alternative paper application process for applicants that have a valid reason for not using computers. Email or call 517-284-6000 for assistance.

Applicants that submit a paper application will complete virtual training Module 1 through distribution in the U.S. mail, and Modules 2-3 will be completed working with RSEES staff or county coordinators. The above timeframes for completing all trainings are still applicable and applicants must still attend an in-person training session. 

Step 4: In-person training

The two day in-person training will be offered once per quarter (four times a year). Training topics include how to teach a class from start to finish, how to prepare for a class and use the instructor manual and lesson plans, live presentations, program specific breakout sessions, and a final exam.   

All meals and lodging are provided at no cost to the applicant. The applicant will be responsible for transportation to and from the training and any cost associated with that travel.

Once the virtual training is complete, applicants will receive an email with the registration links to the next four in-person training sessions. Applicants must attend and successfully complete an in-person training within 12 months of completing the virtual training. Applicants will have 30 days to register for an in-person training. 

If an applicant is applying to become an instructor in more than one program, they may have to attend additional in-person trainings. In these circumstances, these applicants will be given preference for attending the additional in-person training.

In-person training dates and location

Three training dates will be offered in 2024 and will take place at the Ralph A. MacMullan (RAM) Conference Center, 104 Conservation Drive, Roscommon, MI 48653. You can contact the RAM Center by calling: 989-821-6200.

2024 training dates include:

  1. April 20-21, 2024 (registration deadline: Sunday, March 24, 8 p.m.)
  2. July 19-20, 2024 (registration deadline: Sunday, June 23, 8 p.m.)
  3. October 19-20, 2024 (registration deadline: Sunday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m.)

There will be a training during early January 2025 (location to be determined).

Step 5:  Certification

Once the applicant successfully completes the in-person training, they will be certificated as an instructor.

Why volunteers are necessary

  • There are not enough conservation officers to conduct training in every community in the state. Although conservation officers are active in the recreational safety programs, they generally do not have enough time to conduct entire training classes along with their many other duties.
  • Volunteers provide skills or expertise otherwise not available within the agency. Examples of such skills include professional teaching experience, specialty safety training and specialty outdoor recreation training.
  • Volunteers are often well-established local citizens who can help create community interest in the course. They usually have extensive local contacts, are aware of community needs and can facilitate setting up local classes.

What the program offers the instructors

  • It provides the instructor with the means of helping make a safe sport even safer.
  • It provides the instructor with an avenue of input into the statewide recreational safety programs.
  • It offers the volunteer an opportunity to help others and serve the community.
  • It provides the instructor with the means to help ensure the future of outdoor recreation in Michigan.
  • It provides the instructor an income tax deduction which may be claimed, provided proper records are maintained.

The value recreational safety programs provide to the public

  • The programs develop hunters, boaters, snowmobilers and ORV riders who act safely and responsibly.
  • The programs help to reduce outdoor recreation-related accidents and wildlife violations.
  • The programs encourage recognition of outdoor sports as viable recreational activities.
  • The program provides an understanding of the importance of outdoor recreation and conserving our natural resources.