Conservation enforcement officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources must hold a Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training license. Eligibility for a license entails successful completion of the academic and skills components of a law enforcement training program. Many Minnesota postsecondary schools offer classes in law enforcement; some offer convenient on-site skills training, as well. A few Minnesota law enforcement training programs also provide coursework in conservation enforcement, which may be advantageous when applying for jobs with the DNR.
Vermillion Community College
Vermillion Community College, in northeast Minnesota near the Superior National Forest, offers associate degrees and skills training that can prepare you for a conservation enforcement career. You can choose between the traditional law enforcement program or a wildland/wildlife law enforcement degree that focuses on environmental regulations and compliance. After graduating, you may enroll in Seasonal Park Law Enforcement Ranger Training that’s offered each fall. The 19-credit SPLERT certificate meets the clinical skills component of peace officer training needed to sit for the Minnesota POST licensing examination.
Northland Community and Technical College
In northwest Minnesota near the North Dakota border, Northland Community and Technical College offers a Minnesota POST certified criminal justice program leading to an associate degree and eligibility to take the Minnesota POST examination. The clinical skills component is offered on the NCTC campus. According to the school’s website in 2014, graduates of the program have found related jobs in many areas of law enforcement, including state conservation agencies. Students may take up to eight internship credits to gain hands-on training in an area of specialization, such as conservation enforcement.
Alexandria Technical & Community College
Alexandria Technical & Community College is near the middle of the state and offers a law enforcement associate degree. The program is unique in stressing a high degree of practical training throughout the curriculum. Students train on equipment typically used by law enforcement officers. After completing coursework, you can take the 10-week skills training program at ATCC that qualifies you to take the Minnesota POST examination. Skills topics include DNR enforcement, as well as training in arson investigations, which would be useful in investigating suspicious forest fires.
Rochester Community and Technical College
In southeast Minnesota, Rochester Community and Technical College offers an associate degree in law enforcement that satisfies all academic and clinical skills requirements for taking the Minnesota POST examination upon graduation. You would have the option of enrolling in environmental science courses as part of a career track geared to students seeking careers as conservation officers. Examples of environmental science classes include ecology, zoology, general chemistry, environmental ethics and application of GIS technology. Skills training includes topics pertinent to conservation enforcement, such as use of firearms and crime scene investigation.
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.