DNR officer Converse earns officer of the year honor

DNR Conservation Officer Steve Converse (back row, second from left) was named the 2016 Wildlife Officer of the Year by the Shikar-Safari Club International. Joining him for the award presentation at the April 13 Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing were his wife Jennifer and their children Grayson, Lilly, Weston and Allie. Also pictured are DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler (far left) and Gunnar Klarr of Shikar-Safari Club International (far right). (Courtesy photo)

DNR Conservation Officer Steve Converse (back row, second from left) was named the 2016 Wildlife Officer of the Year by the Shikar-Safari Club International. Joining him for the award presentation at the April 13 Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing were his wife Jennifer and their children Grayson, Lilly, Weston and Allie. Also pictured are DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler (far left) and Gunnar Klarr of Shikar-Safari Club International (far right). (Courtesy photo)

MANISTEE COUNTY — Conservation Officer Steve Converse, a 16-year Department of Natural Resources veteran serving Manistee County, recently was honored by the Shikar-Safari Club International as Michigan’s 2016 Wildlife Officer of the Year.

The international hunting organization is involved in such recognitions of key officials in natural resources agencies across the United States and Canada.

Converse received the award at regular meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing this month.

“We hold our officers to the highest standards,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “The fact that Officer Converse earned this recognition speaks to his outstanding dedication and professionalism. He genuinely cares about the people and resources he’s sworn to protect. He’s a credit to the DNR and Michigan’s law enforcement community.”

The award is presented to officers who show exemplary conduct and initiative while performing their duties.

Hagler praised Converse for his strong work ethic and devotion to duty. Converse routinely makes himself available to handle complaints and investigations no matter the time of day or night, even if the work takes him outside of his assigned county.

Converse is known for taking on additional responsibilities. For example, he serves as a charter boat inspector, a significant task considering Manistee County has one of the busiest commercial fishing harbors in the state. In addition, the DNR Law Enforcement Division relies on his creativity and expertise when developing training scenarios for new officers.

When it comes to protecting Michigan’s natural resources, Converse gets results.

His investigative work results each year in numerous poaching convictions for fish and game illegally taken from Manistee and surrounding counties, generating tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and reimbursement to the state – in 2016 alone, Officer Converse had 16 successful prosecutions of deer-related violations that resulted in more than $47,000 in reimbursement. Those proceeds support the department’s management of Michigan’s natural resources and help provide outdoor recreation safety and education programming.

Officer Converse was instrumental in the implementation of a 2015 regulation restricting devices used to illegally harvest fish in Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties.

While enforcing the law is a big part of an officer’s job, Converse also enjoys serving as a DNR “ambassador” to educate citizens so they can safely and legally enjoy Michigan’s outdoor opportunities. He teaches hunter safety classes and has positively influenced many young hunters during his career. Converse also routinely visits schools to educate students about Michigan’s natural resources and to discuss career opportunities within the DNR.

Converse’s colleagues nominated him for the award, demonstrating the respect he has earned among his peers.

A native of Middleville and an Olivet College graduate, Converse and his family live in Manistee County.

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

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