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DNR conservation officer recruits support Harvest Gathering

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer recruits took time from their demanding training schedules to raise more than 1,800 items for the state’s annual food drive, which supports needy families across Michigan.

The Michigan Harvest Gathering is in its 27th year and has provided more than 54 million meals for families needing food assistance. Recruits participated in the Harvest Gathering’s State Employees Campaign, which began Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 3.

Twenty-three men and women are in their 16th week of training at the DNR Conservation Officer Recruit School. The academy began July 16 and runs through Dec. 21.

“Conservation officers believe in being part of the communities they serve,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “The concept of ‘service before self’ is one of the basic principles of Recruit School and remains an integral part of a conservation officer’s lifelong code of conduct. We’re proud to support Michigan Harvest Gathering and help make a meaningful difference in the lives of our needy neighbors across the state.”

Recruits contributed 1,775 boxed and canned goods while other members of the Recruit School staff donated 112 items to help reach the academy’s goal of 1,887. That target was selected because it has special meaning for Michigan conservation officers. The DNR Law Enforcement Division was founded in 1887, making it Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency. It marks its 130th anniversary this year.

The need for food assistance persists in Michigan. About 16 percent of households struggle to put food on the table and 21 percent of children do not know where their next meal will come from, according to the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

“The academy is about more than just building the best possible conservation officers,” said Sgt. Jason Wicklund, Recruit School commander. “It’s also about shaping the highest-quality people. We incorporate public service projects like Harvest Gathering into the curriculum because it gives trainees a valuable, well-rounded life perspective that makes them better conservation officers and citizens. We want them to understand the importance of giving back to their communities and state.”

The Recruit School initiative is one aspect of the DNR’s overall Harvest Gathering commitment. Employees across the entire department are contributing generously to the campaign through activities such as a silent auction, which raised more than $3,400 in 2016; the sale of baked goods and cider, a pizza lunch, the sale of DNR promotional items, and a variety of other events.

To get a close-up look at life in Recruit School, subscribe to the weekly conservation officer academy blog, which also will be posted on the Michigan DNR Facebook page. View previous blogs from Recruit School #8.

Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace offers with authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.