Making the grade: DNR conservation officer recruits begin rigorous journey

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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Twenty-five candidates will try to make the grade as Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers when the 8th Conservation Officer Recruit School gets under way Sunday, July 16, in Lansing.

Recruits face 23 weeks of intensive training that taxes their bodies, minds and spirits. This year’s class is composed of 18 men and seven women. Four candidates are from the Upper Peninsula, 18 are from the Lower Peninsula and three are from out of state.

The DNR will provide weekly blogs that offer a closer look at life in this year’s Conservation Officer Recruit School. The blogs highlight weekly training events and challenges. You can subscribe to the blogs, which also will be posted on the

Recruits had to pass a stringent screening process that included a physical fitness test, a background investigation and two hiring interviews. While at the academy, recruits will be trained in skills such as firearms, survival tactics, vehicle operations, water safety, first aid, criminal law, fish and game law and enforcement, report writing, alcohol enforcement and computer use.

Recruits who complete the academy will graduate Dec. 21 and then spend an additional 20 weeks training throughout the state before being assigned to one of Michigan’s 83 counties.

“The DNR has some of the country’s most challenging and comprehensive law enforcement training,” said Sgt. Jason Wicklund, Recruit School commander. “Our standards are high and the school is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. While we hope all of our candidates are successful, we know the challenges involved might prevent some from completing this training. But those who do will earn the right to join the ranks of an elite team that is dedicated to protecting and serving Michigan.”

DNR conservation officers serve a distinct role in Michigan’s law enforcement community. They are certified peace officers with authority to enforce all of Michigan’s laws. As conservation officers, they also have unique training in a variety of areas related to the protection of Michigan’s residents, the environment and our natural resources. Conservation officers often are first to respond in situations such as medical emergencies, missing persons and public safety threats.

The DNR Law Enforcement Division is recruiting for future academies. For more information, contact Sgt. John Meka at or 517-284-6499. To learn more about the hiring process and the role of a conservation officer, visit

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