News release: 16 new Minnesota DNR conservation officers graduate from academy, begin field training

August 17, 2023

Sixteen people who trained for months to become Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers took a step to achieving their goal earlier this week when they graduated from the 22nd Conservation Officer Academy. With 16 weeks at the academy behind them, they’ll spend the next several months training throughout the state with experienced conservation officers.

The new officers will complete field training and be in their assigned stations in early December.

The new officers have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. They’ve worked in sheriffs’ offices and police departments in Minnesota, and some have served our nation and state as veterans. Others joined the Minnesota DNR through the CO Prep program, which provides a pathway for people with at least a two-year degree to become a conservation officer.

“We have a proud, 136-year tradition of serving on behalf of Minnesota’s people and natural resources,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “We’re excited for these new officers to join the CO ranks and continue the important work of ensuring future generations of Minnesotans have the same opportunities we have today.”

The Conservation Officer Academy prepares new officers to occupy vital roles in the communities they serve. During the academy, recruits are trained in all aspects of being a conservation officer and learn from experienced officers and other experts on a wide variety of topics, including education/outreach, fish and wildlife laws, patrol procedures and environmental enforcement. Cadets are tested each week and put through practical scenarios that reflect what they’ll encounter in the field. During the field training portion of their preparation, cadets work throughout the state with experienced officers before they head to permanent stations.

The graduates were chosen from hundreds of applicants and underwent rigorous examinations, psychological profiles and background checks before beginning at the academy.

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