Regardless of their title, DNR workers dedicated to their professions

I used to work for the DNR. At the time, when I needed a short answer to the question, “Where do you work?” I’d just say, “I work for the DNR.”

Almost all people knew what the initials, “DNR” stood for, but if the person continued the questioning for some reason, their next question was usually, “Oh, so you are a game warden?”

Only occasionally did they refer to the law enforcement men and women from the DNR as conservation officers. The “game warden” title was sidelined in the middle of the 20th century. I guess the Enforcement Division still has some marketing to do.

The second most common follow-up question was, “Oh, are you a forest ranger?”

Most states, including Michigan, don’t have positions in their DNR’s forest management division called “forest rangers.” Though there are a variety of professional positions in state forestry agencies, none are called rangers. The general term for a professional forestry worker is “forester.”

Michigan does have park rangers. However, at the federal level, the U.S. Forest Service has scrapped the term “forest rangers,” but the national forests federal foresters are still divide into Ranger Districts. That has to be confusing.

The third most mistaken assumption I’d get when I admitted to being a DNR guy was that I worked at a fish hatchery. The news just came out that the Michigan DNR stocked well over 25 million fish last year. No wonder people who have little contact with the DNR or their programs make this single connection. If you work for the DNR you must raise baby fish.

Regardless of the titles or names of the positions of the men and women of the various DNR disciplines, no matter if you call them by their colloquial names, such as ranger or game warden, or refer to them as possum-cops, stump-jumpers, fish heads, duck nuts or any of the other not-so-glorious nicknames I’ve heard, you’ll not find a more dedicated, under-paid, highly-trained professionals than state DNR workers across the country.

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