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Recruit School #11: Week 12

Sept. 25-30, 2022

Author: CO recruit writer

The remaining 13 recruits of Conservation Officer Recruit School #11 arrived back at the training academy at 1800 Sunday evening. As soon as I stepped out of my car to gather my belongings, I noticed everyone had a similar look on their face. I could immediately tell that everyone was anxious to start week 12, after a very physically and mentally demanding week 11. After entering the academy doors, we assembled on our floor to discuss the previous week. We all learned a lot from week 11. We not only learned a lot about ourselves, but we also learned a lot about our team as a whole. We knew that in order to move forward in this academy, we needed to come together as a team. We are no longer individuals. We are a family.

people sitting at tables in a classroom listening to an instructor speak

Photo caption: Conservation Officer Recruit School #11 spent part of the week at the DNR’s Rose Lake Shooting Range, learning about Michigan’s fish species, laws, rules, and regulations.  

The focus of week 12 was fish identification and enforcement. We were extremely excited for this week because fish and game enforcement is the bread and butter of being a conservation officer. It’s why we all decided to pursue this career.

Monday morning physical training started with sprints around the track. The workout began with a 1-mile warmup, then many intervals of 30-second sprints and 60-second jogs. Later in class, we learned about domestic violence with Detective Diana Mills, Mount Morris Police Department. We learned how to figure out who the perpetrator is in a domestic violence situation, how to interview victims of domestic violence, and how to understand the way domestic violence offenders think. 

three men look at fish on a table

Photo caption: More than 40 fish species were on display for recruits to handle and learn from. 

The second half of Monday started what we all were looking forward to the most: intro to fish identification and enforcement with Cpl. Pat Hartsig, fish specialist with the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Great Lakes Enforcement Unit. As Michigan conservation officers, knowing how to identify various fish species is an extremely important part of the job. Michigan COs spend a lot of time on the water, so it is important to know how to effectively communicate with anglers and know the many different fish species that are in Michigan’s lakes and streams. After our first class, I soon realized how much I didn’t know about fishing.

On Tuesday, we were back in the classroom with Detective Mills. We learned about stalking and photographing crime scenes. As law enforcement officers, taking photographs is an extremely important part of the job and we will need to know how to properly take pictures that can effectively be used as evidence in court. Later that afternoon, we were back at Rose Lake with Cpl. Hartsig to learn more about fish identification, specifically focusing on trout and salmon. 

Later that night, we took turns participating in a scenario that involved a routine bow hunter check that took place in a field. I originally thought this scenario would be a walk in the park because we had already experienced many scenarios like it, or so I thought. In this case, everything seemed legal and checked out okay. After talking with the hunter and discovering that he had his deer license, I left the scene and told him to have a good day. However, what I didn’t notice was that he was in possession of a stolen tree stand. I learned a lot from this scenario. Every encounter we have will be unique and we must learn to pay attention to our surroundings. 

A man talking to people inside an ice shanty while one man measures fish

Photo caption: Conservation Officer Recruit School #11 spent the week learning about fish identification and enforcement, where they participated in various fish scenarios. Shown in this photo, two members of Conservation Officer Recruit School #11 conduct a routine fish check with two anglers inside an ice shanty. On the left, one officer talks to the anglers, while the officer on the right counts and measures the fish. 

Wednesday was our last day to practice fish identification skills before our Thursday exam. We looked more in depth at whitefish identification and practiced two different scenarios that would be common situations we’ll encounter in the field.

Thursday began with a brisk 5-mile run out on the drive track at the academy. I was motivated as we all sang cadences loud and proud while we ran around the track. We were all excited to take our weekly exam and finish the week strong. After three days of learning about Michigan’s various fish species, we were ready to take our final fish identification exam. There were more than 40 fish species that we had to identify, and the exam included the fish that we are most likely to run into in the field. As someone who has spent most of my life in the woods hunting, I knew that fish identification was not my specialty. However, going into this exam I felt extremely confident in the knowledge that I had learned from the previous three days.

recruits stand against a wall in the gym and listen to a coach talk

Photo caption: During Friday morning physical training, Kathryn Robuck, owner of Fit Body Boot Camp in Lake Orion, led recruits through several workout stations that targeted all parts of the body.

On Friday, we had a special guest lead our morning physical training. Kathryn Robuck, owner of Fit Body Boot Camp in Lake Orion. Kathryn led us through several workout stations that focused on working all parts of the body. I really enjoyed this workout because it incorporated a team-building relay exercise which was a great way to finish out the week.

Overall, I think week 12 was one of our best weeks in terms of teamwork and comradery. We are starting to realize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and are all focused on helping each other better ourselves as a team. 

Read Week 13.