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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today that Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, assistant director and 19-year veteran of the department, will be the next director of the agency’s Enforcement Division.
“Rodmen brings a wealth of on-the-job knowledge and experience to the position, and understands first-hand the challenges facing natural resources law enforcement,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “I’m looking forward to working with Rodmen to enhance the division’s communications and public outreach and accelerate our efforts to diversify the department and solidify our reputation as a top-shelf natural resources agency.”
As division director Smith, 44, will oversee a $38 million annual budget and a staff of 250 employees, more than 200 of whom are licensed conservation officers. The division is responsible for enforcing the state’s laws related to game and fish; public lands, waters and natural resources; units of the outdoor recreation system and outdoor recreation-related public safety.
Smith began his career with the DNR in 1997 as a conservation officer. He was assigned to patrol areas in central and northern Minnesota, and later became a district supervisor, a regional Enforcement Division director and then the division’s operations manager. In 2011 he was promoted to the division’s assistant director where his job responsibilities included the division’s budgeting, policy formation and legislative liaison.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and speech communication from St. Cloud State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Smith is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, the Harvard Kennedy School of Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies program and the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy.
“I see three immediate priorities for the division,” Smith said. “We need to continue to improve our service to Minnesota citizens. We need to recruit and hire new officers who not only exceed our high standards, but more accurately reflect the diverse community we serve. And we need to continue to provide field staff with the best training and tools to do their job safely, effectively and efficiently.”
Smith assumes the position of Minnesota’s chief conservation officer immediately. He replaces Col. Ken Soring, who retired in December after more than 35 years with the DNR.
Smith and his wife Kimberly have two daughters: Kenley (11), Gracie (7) and a yellow lab named Finn.