FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 11 NOV 03 Contact: Alan Marble, 517-335-3427 New Conservation Officers take to the field Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today announced 17 new officers starting duties in counties throughout Michigan this fall. Officers in April completed more than a year of intensive training at the DNRs Michigan Conservation Officer Recruit School, held at the Michigan State Police Academy in Lansing. The 22-week program was designed by DNR Law Enforcement Division and is one of only three programs in the state certified by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. The graduates spent the summer working with veteran conservation officers in the field before being approved to work independently this fall. Their addition means Michigan now has 146 conservation officers serving 83 counties. DNRs Law Enforcement Division has 210 commissioned officers. Our DNR Conservation Officers benefit from some of the most comprehensive training of any law enforcement operation in the country, said DNR Director K.L. Cool. We are very proud to present our new officers to their respective posts, where they will be an asset to conservation and their communities, and we are confident they are ready to respond to the challenges they will face. A complete listing of the officers and their backgrounds, organized by the counties they serve, is below. Photos of the new officers are available at http://www.michigandnr.com/lawphoto/. * Arenac County, Officer Joe Molnar: Molnar earned his Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Lake Superior State in 2002. Upon completing LSSUs police academy, Molnar worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Missaukee County before joining the DNR. * Barry County, Officer Samuel Koscinski: Kosckinski is originally from the Detroit Area. He attended Lake Superior State University and has worked as a DNR Parks Ranger since college. * Clare County, Officer Jason McCullough: Officer McCullough was born and raised in Battle Creek, and earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of Michigans School of Natural Resources and Environment in 1999. Prior to his work at the DNR, McCullough was a carpenter in Calhoun County. * Iron County, Officer John Wenzel: Wenzel, a Wisconsin native, earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice from Northern Michigan University, and served eight years in the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard, where he earned the rank of Sergeant. Wenzel worked for six years as a Deputy for the Van Buren County Sheriff prior to joining the DNR. * Isabella County, Officer Jeremy Payne: Payne earned his Bachelors of Science in criminal justice from Grand Valley State University, and attended the universitys police academy in 2001. Payne worked as a police officer for the City of Ann Arbor prior to joining the DNR. * Jackson County, Officer Dan Bigger: Bigger previously served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine electronics technician. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science from Oakland University and worked for the Oakland County Health Department prior to joining the DNR. * Lake County, Officer Angela Noll: Noll, originally from Sheridan, has been employed at the DNR since she graduated from Alma College in 1997. * Luce County, Officer Chris Wright: Wright is a 1992 graduate of Oregon State University and a 1998 graduate of the Kirtland Regional Police Academy. His previous work includes the Cadillac Police Department and the Alpena County Sheriffs Department. * Luce County, Officer Michael Hammill: Hammill attended Lake Superior State University and studied criminal justice prior to joining the DNR. * Monroe County, Officer Peter Purdy: Purdy earned his Bachelors Degree from Saginaw Valley State University, and worked for police departments in the City of Howell, Flushing Township, and the Village of Reese prior to joining the DNR. * Oakland County, Officer Jair Kollasch: Kollasch attended Lake Superior State University and Michigan State University, and worked as a Howell Area Firefighter prior to joining the DNR. * Oakland County, Officer Kenneth Kovach: Kovach earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University in 1999, and graduated from Delta Colleges Kirtland Regional Police Academy in 2001. Kovach worked as a police officer for two years prior to joining the DNR. * Oakland County, Officer Richard Nickols: Nickols is a 2000 graduate of Lake Superior State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. His previous work includes the Ingham County Sheriffs Department, where he was a deputy and a narcotics officer. * Oscoda County, Officer Joel Lundberg: Lundberg is a graduate of Northern Michigan University, where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Conservation, then spent a year working as a fish culturist in Alaska. Lundberg returned to NMU, and graduated from the universitys Public Safety Institute in 2000. His previous law enforcement work includes the Harbor Springs Police Department. * Presque Isle County, Officer Rich Stowe: Stowe, a Leelanau County native, served four years in the US Army and earned his Associates Degree in Law Enforcement from Northwestern Michigan College. He worked for eight years on patrol for the Grand Traverse County Sheriffs Department prior to joining the DNR. * Washtenaw County, Officer Christopher Holmes: Holmes holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Western Michigan University, and worked as a District Forester / Wildlife Biologist for the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts prior to joining the DNR. * Wayne County, Officer Chad Foerster: Foerster completed Delta Colleges Northeastern Basic Police Academy in 1997 and worked as a Saginaw police officer for six years prior to joining the DNR.