Several communities throughout Michigan are gaining new conservation officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, including two officers for Muskegon County.

Since graduating in December from the DNR’s 23-week Conservation Officer Recruit School #9 in Lansing, the officers have traveled the state completing their field training program and gaining diverse experience as probationary officers.

“The process for becoming a Michigan DNR conservation officer includes several phases,” said F/Lt. Jason Wicklund. “We want to ensure that our new officers are able to apply what they learned in the academy and use those skills in real-life scenarios, in addition to learning new skills from the field training officers they are partnered with.”

The new conservation officers received their permanent county assignments prior to graduating from the academy. After graduation, conservation officers must complete three phases of probationary training before they move into their permanent county assignments.

Assigned to Muskegon County are Conservation Officers Anna Cullen and Jackie Miskovich.

“I’m excited to be a conservation officer in Muskegon County because it is where I grew up and where I have lived for most of my life,” CO Cullen said. “I know the area, as well as the people. I look forward to supporting and representing the people of Muskegon County as well as the department as a whole.”

CO Miskovich added, “As a conservation officer, I want to earn the respect of the people in my community, while effectively enforcing the state’s laws. I want to educate people about Michigan’s natural resources and what they can do to help sustain them for future generations to enjoy. I want to be a good example for people to look up to, someone to come to when they have questions or concerns.”

While their primary mission is to enforce fish, game and natural resource protection laws, conservation officers serve a unique role as certified peace officers with authority to enforce all of Michigan’s criminal laws. Because of their specialized training and equipment, conservation officers often are first responders to situations involving medical emergencies, missing persons and public safety threats.

The academy involved off-road training to operate specialized vehicles, such as four-wheel-drive trucks, ORVs, snowmobiles and patrol boats – everyday tools used by conservation officers to patrol Michigan’s natural resources. Recruits took several trips to specialized training locations throughout Michigan, including the Camp Grayling Training Center, the GM Proving Grounds in Milford and the Ingham County Jail, in addition to completing scenario testing at several parks.

Founded in 1887, the DNR Law Enforcement Division is Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency.