DNR’s newest conservation officers set to hit the field

18 new officers will assume their stations Dec. 5

They’ve saved a hunter’s life, helped remove a deer running wild through the basement of a home and taught firearms safety classes. They’ve busted poachers, had lunch with kids and learned the ins and outs of natural resources law enforcement. 

Since their training began in May, the Department of Natural Resources’ 18 newest conservation officers have gained the experience necessary to be successful when they assume their field stations Wednesday, Dec. 5.

“Our new officers join a staff that’s among the most highly trained in the nation and that for more than 130 years has been dedicated to protecting Minnesota’s citizens and natural resources,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “We’re proud to welcome them to the fold and confident they’ll carry on our tradition to serving our communities.”

The new officers, who were chosen from among hundreds of applicants, have diverse backgrounds and bring unique experiences to the job. They trained for 15 weeks during the late spring and summer at the Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley, and since mid-August have been working throughout the state with experienced officers.

Following is a list of the new officers and where they will be stationed:

Nathan Benkofske – Milaca

Anthony Elwell – Thief River Falls #2

Clint Fitzgerald – Rochester #2

Anthony Flerlage – Spring Valley

Andrew Goodman – Elbow Lake

Tyler Lusignan – Faribault

Taylor Hochstein – Hill City

Jacqueline Hughes – Longville

Leah Kampa – Annandale

Benjamin Karon – Isle

Annette Kyllo – Pierz

Michael Lerchen – Bloomington

Blong Lor – Redwood Falls

Tyler Ramaker – LaCrescent

Jacob Swedberg – Detroit Lakes

Garrett Thomas – Eagan

Ashley Whiteoak – Malmo

Shane Zavodnik – International Falls #2

There are 155 field stations across the state, each covering about 650 square miles. While this year’s conservation officer class will cut down on the number of vacancies, there still will be 22 field stations without full-time, dedicated coverage. The DNR plans to hold another academy in the spring of 2019.