NEW Conservation Law Enforcement Degree Program

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"North Woods Law" highlighted career prospects and demand

White Mountains Community College (WMCC) has developed a new Associate degree program in Conservation Law Enforcement focused on education and training geared towards individuals who have a passion for the outdoors, coupled with an interest in law

The new Conservation Law Enforcement program combines foundational courses with specific environmental science and criminal justice courses. It was developed as a result of students at WMCC expressing interest in becoming conservation officers after learning about this career path through Animal Planet’s North Woods Law television show. WMCC already offered programs in environmental science and criminal justice. The new Conservation Law Enforcement program marries the two to create this unique educational opportunity providing the education and training required for those who want to be conservation officers.

After hearing of the interest from students, Rachel Dandeneau, an associate professor of environmental science at WMCC, reached out to local forest rangers and officials at the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game to determine labor market demand for conservation officers in the community. Responses indicated that there have been many conservation law enforcement positions open over the past few years and a program geared towards this profession would be a great benefit to the north country and NH as a whole. Much of the region includes park space and natural resources, including the White Mountain National Forest, which is comprised of 780,852 acres of land.

“The interest from students paired with a growing need in the community made it clear that a Conservation Law Enforcement program could be viable and meet a need,” said Dandeneau. “The new program is most ideal for individuals who enjoy being outdoors all year long, value our natural resources and seek a career where they get to work with people while providing some type of public service.”

One of the program requirements is a 120-hour internship in a criminal justice-related agency, where students will gain practical, hands-on experience in a law enforcement setting. Students can seek internships at New Hampshire Fish and Game or the Division of Forest and Land offices throughout the state if they choose, but would also gain pertinent experience by seeking out internships in town or state police departments or correctional facilities.

Upon completion of the program, students are eligible for careers as conservation officers, game wardens, forest rangers and park rangers. In addition, WMCC is currently developing an agreement with Unity College in Maine that will enable graduates of WMCC’s two-year program to transfer into Unity’s four-year program to complete a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Law Enforcement.

Applications are currently being accepted and the deadline to apply is Monday, August 26.To learn more about the new Conservation Law Enforcement program at WMCC contact rdandeneau@ccsnh.edu, call 603-342-3023 or visit wmcc.edu.

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