DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr addressing conservation officer recruits.
The next 12 weeks of work at Camp Ripley will produce the newest Department of Natural Resources corps of conservation officers.
Twelve candidates have begun the DNR Enforcement Conservation Officer Academy at Ripley, chosen from among 800 applicants.
Fish and wildlife laws, rules of evidence, patrol procedures, search and rescue, and fish and wildlife investigation are among subjects to be taught — and learned.
Sixteen weeks of field training with veteran conservation officers will follow before the new officers receive assignments.
“Conservation officers are the face of the department, so it’s important to project a positive, professional image,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner.
Landwehr described an officer's occupation as not a job, but a lifestyle. The work will at times interfere with family time, and can sometimes be dangerous, the commissioner said.
The DNR has 25 of its 155 conservation officer field stations empty.
“Work hard, do your best and make us proud,” DNR enforcement director Jim Konrad told the recruits.