“North Woods Law” highlighted career prospects and demand

Berlin, NH – 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 enforcement. The two-year program kicks off this fall and centers around the criminal justice and environmental science curriculum through field-based training, conventional teaching and hands-on learning.

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.

About WMCC

White Mountains Community College (WMCC) is located in Berlin, New Hampshire with satellite campuses in Littleton and North Conway, and is one of seven colleges in the Community College System of New Hampshire. WMCC offers Associate Degree and Certificate programs, plus training options, preparing students for 21st century job opportunities as well as transfer pathways to four year colleges and universities. WMCC is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Our courses are the most affordable in New Hampshire and our Littleton Academic Center makes us accessible to all students in the North Country Region. Courses are available day, evening and online. WMCC courses transfer to four-year colleges and universities in New Hampshire and across the country. The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the “65 by 25 Initiative,” which calls for 65% of NH citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands.

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