A Tale of Two Wardens
Conservation Warden Jill
Answers Your Questions
I make a lot of visits to schools in my area. Below you will find answers to questions that students have asked me about my job as a conservation warden.
The Wisconsin Conservation Warden Force is divided up into five different regions; northern, northeast, west central, southeast, south central. I work in the northern region.
In this region there are four teams: Lake Superior, Spooner, Upper Chippewa and Woodruff. I am on the Lake Superior team along with several other wardens.
There are about 209 conservation wardens in the state. Of the 209, about 153 are Field Wardens like me. Of the 153, there are 14 women.
My job as a conservation warden is to protect natural resources. Natural resources are the land, air, water, ground, plants, trees, fish, animals, birds, and all other wildlife including people.
In speaking with students ages 11-14 and asking them what they think a conservation warden does, the answer I usually get is something like this. "A conservation warden checks fishing and hunting licenses and writes citations (tickets) to people violating DNR laws."
If I would have asked you this question many years ago, the above answer would have been correct, because back then wardens were expected to spend most of their time in the field, catching poachers (people taking fish and game illegally). But, much as changed!
Wardens today have many more responsibilities than just enforcing fish and game laws. A conservation warden is an important part of their community. It is the warden's job to teach local citizens that their every day living affects natural resources and that it is everyone's responsibility to protect them.
A warden's job has many tasks:
- Field work. This includes checking people doing activities such as inland fishing, trout fishing, bow fishing, smelting, rough fishing, turtle fishing, gun and bow deer hunting, bear hunting, small game hunting, trapping, turkey hunting, waterfowl hunting, and more.
- Public relations. Writing newspaper articles in the local papers, speaking on the local radio station and talking to many clubs, civic groups, youth programs and schools are all part of the job.
- Safety classes. Wardens attend hunting, boating, snowmobiling and all terrain vehicle (ATV) safety classes given in the area. They teach students the laws dealing with each sport.
- Accidents. Whenever there is a hunting, boating, ATV or snowmobile accident in a warden's area, he/she responds to the accident scene and does an investigation. The warden determines the cause of the accident and then writes a thorough report of their findings.
- Environmental and spill issues. Wardens are required to respond every time chemicals and other pollutants are spilled accidentally or intentionally. At each spill the warden determines who is responsible. They then require the person or company to clean up the spill site and return the environment back to its original state.
- Water regulations. Wardens educate people about the rules and regulations that protect the waters of Wisconsin-- the streams, lakes, and rivers of the state.
- Informational complaints. Wardens answer complaints about natural resource law violations. They follow up by returning calls, mailing information or responding to the location of the complaint and issuing a citation for violations.
Public relations is an important part of a conservation warden's job. Speech classes are recommended along with English classes, because not only does a warden need to give talks, they also need to be able to put their words into writing when writing reports and articles. Science and Biology classes are also recommended.
There is a minimum educational requirement of 60 college credits or an Associates degree from a technical college for candidates interested in becoming a conservation warden.
For more information on warden qualifications, click here. (Leaves EEK!)
There are internship programs which college students participate in. This may be something you can get involved in. Also, many of the conservation wardens working today, while in college, worked their summers at state parks as park rangers.
A warden's work schedule varies from season to season. Wardens work weekends and holidays because that is when people are out enjoying natural resources. Most wardens are scheduled to work a 40-hour week. But it's not unusual for a warden to work an 8-hour day, then later that same day have to respond to a call of a spill or illegal hunting or fishing activity. Because of this, some wardens might work up to 400 hours of overtime a year. Wardens are on call 24 hours a day, they have answering machines in their office to answer calls when they're out in the field.
A conservation warden's starting wage is about $19.84 an hour.
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I hope the above information has sparked your interest in considering a career with the Department of Natural Resources as a conservation warden. You can learn even more about the career of conservation warden by linking here to the WDNR pages.
Go to Meet Jill Schartner-Conservation Warden
Back to A Tale of Two Wardens
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