4-H Great Lakes camp hosts DNR night

4-H Great Lakes Camp provides a quality camp experience for youth in leadership and natural resources with support from Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resource Camp deviated from the program norm to offer 70 youth a unique look at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during one evening at the recent camp program held July 3-Aug. 6, 2016. “DNR Night” hosted representatives from three separate divisions of the DNR to visit camp to share their roles, experiences and career choices. Three separate sessions were presented, each with its own story of what is done within the DNR. This experience provided youth a first-hand look into some of what the DNR does and what it takes to obtain these positions.

One of the sessions was presented by conservation officer Sgt. Joe Molnar. A video was shown highlighting the important work done by conservation officers such as enforcing rules and regulations surrounding hunting and fishing, boating, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and snowmobile use. He also touched on investigation of violations regarding Michigan’s natural resources. Molnar gave an inspiring talk about what motivated him to become a conservation officer, some of his challenges of the job and what it takes to become a conservation officer with the Michigan DNR. He shared that his favorite part of the job is talking and working with youth!

Mark Hansen, Jennifer Hansen and Marty Osantowski came to camp as part of a Michigan DNR fire prevention team. Each of them gave their perspective on the dangers of wildfires and what the DNR does to manage and prevent wildfires. It was also mentioned about the benefits of fire and how fire is used as a management tool in certain instances. They also brought along some of their impressive equipment including a fire suit, hand tools, a pumping truck and a bulldozer. They even turned on the truck pumps and gave each youth a chance to spray retardant from a fire hose!

A third session was offered by wildlife biologist Shelby Hiestand. She provided a clear picture of what a wildlife biologist might do on a daily basis. This includes live capturing wolves, monitoring bear populations, improving specific habitat and, of course, paperwork! Hiestand brought along many mammal skins, sharing unique adaptations and characteristics that help them survive the Michigan seasons. Youth were able to handle many of the skins and feel the difference between a summer and winter raccoon fur.

Programs such as “DNR Night” is another example of how 4-H Great Lakes Natural Resource Camp provides youth a unique exposure to natural resources addressing aspects of ecology, stewardship and careers. Michigan DNR has proven to be a great supporter of Michigan State University Extension and 4-H programming. They are very helpful as resource experts to supplement program areas in natural resources. It is beneficial for youth to see DNR staff in this mode rather than handing out citations, fighting fires or battling deer issues.

MSU Extension encourages participation in new experiences that are safe and expose youth to science involvement with 4-H Science: Asking Questions and Discovering Answers.

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