When Capt. Stacey Sharp told his wife 30-some years ago the area of northern Minnesota where they vacationed would be a great place to retire, she didn’t have much of a reaction. After all, their teen years were barely in the rearview when he muttered those words, and retirement wasn’t even a speck on the horizon.
Turns out, Sharp had pretty good intuition. He retires Jan. 3 as the regional Enforcement Division manager in Bemidji and has no plans to leave the place he’s wanted to be since he was a young man working as a trooper for the Nebraska State Patrol. Sharp is leaving behind a career about which he has no regrets.
“I’m one of the fortunate ones,” Sharp said. “I spent 37 years in public service, all of it working for two great agencies.”
He spent the majority of it with the Nebraska State Patrol. During the summer, he and his wife would bring their kids to a resort around Itasca State Park. They fell in love with Minnesota and Perham-area conservation officer Chris Vinton, who worked for Sharp in Nebraska before coming to the DNR, kept telling him how great the job was. Sharp’s only hang-up? His belief the DNR wouldn’t hire “an old guy.” When there was an opening for conservation officers, Sharp applied, and he was hired in February 2006.
His first station was Thief River Falls, then he transferred to Bemidji in 2007. Five years later he became the district lieutenant in Bemidji, and he’s been the regional Enforcement Division manager there since 2013. That position oversees conservation officers and their supervisors in 24 counties throughout the northwestern quarter of Minnesota.
Sharp enjoyed a lot about being a conservation officer, including that many of the people he dealt with were law-abiding folks simply out enjoying the state’s natural resources.
“Getting up and going to work every day has been a real positive thing for me,” Sharp said. “The lakes, the woods and the people are just great. And you see all these cool things when you go out and do the job. It just really doesn’t get any better than that.”
He doesn’t have specific plans for retirement, though a chance encounter with a clockmaker shortly after he moved to Bemidji likely laid the foundation. The man, a retired state trooper, taught him the trade and now Sharp has a shop in his home where he builds, rebuilds and repairs all types of clocks.
So while he may not punch the clock any longer, he’ll still be on the clock.