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Behind the Badge - My Path to Becoming a Game Warden in North Dakota

My Path to Becoming a Game Warden in North Dakota

District Game Warden Connor Folkers

I often get asked how I became a game warden. Once people find out I am from Iowa their curiosity peaks as to how I ended up in North Dakota.

I grew up in central Iowa where I learned to archery hunt for whitetail deer and fish for whatever I could catch out of my local pond. I remember my dad dragging me out into the woods every weekend early in the morning to sit in a deer stand or a ground blind with him waiting to get my first deer.

It took a few years and a lot of unsuccessful hunts before I shot my first deer with my shotgun. Yes, I said shotgun, which is what is used in Iowa during gun seasons instead of a rifle. After that I was instantly hooked on hunting, and it turned into me dragging my dad out into the woods every weekend.

The following year I tried bow hunting and was able to get a decent buck with my bow. Over the years I came to realize that regardless of my hunting successes, I enjoyed just spending time outdoors.

As I approached my senior year in high school, I was still unsure about my future or what I wanted to do after school. Law enforcement was something that interested me, but I just wasn’t set on it quite yet. As a requirement for a class in school I needed to job shadow someone.

I decided to meet with my local conservation officer to learn more about a day in the life of his job.

I was very intrigued as I found it to have a good balance of law enforcement and the great outdoors. After more thought I knew that was what I wanted to do after college.

I decided to begin my education at the local community college, DMACC, and I majored in criminal justice. During my one year at DMACC I began to research 4-year universities and found that South Dakota State University offered a good program with a bachelor’s of science degree in natural resource law enforcement. I applied to SDSU and was excited to be accepted to pursue this great career.

One of my best friends had also chosen to pursue a career in natural resource management and study at SDSU. We spent a significant amount of time outside of the classroom enjoying hunting and fishing.

It was during college that I began waterfowl hunting and I developed a lot of great friendships while spending time doing things we loved. My college friends also introduced me to ice fishing for the first time which is not a big sport in central Iowa. It has now become one of my favorite pastimes.

During college I also went on multiple ride alongs in South Dakota and Iowa with State and Federal Wildlife officers learning differences between the positions and narrowing down what I would hope to do some day.

I successfully graduated after four years in college with a BS in natural resource management law enforcement and now was time to find a job.

Upon finishing school, I learned of an opening for a game warden position in North Dakota. One of the things I learned while in the natural resource management program was that there are limited game warden positions available, and they can be tough to get.

I knew I had to be open to relocating. Going through the application process, testing and interviews was stressful. In the end though, I was fortunate to be offered a position as a North Dakota district game warden.

After going through training, I realized how much my knowledge and experience in hunting and fishing helped me get to where I was. It helps me connect with hunters and anglers in the field and understand not only from the law enforcement side of things, but also be able to relate from the perspective of the public.

Since becoming a game warden, I have gained a best friend, my hunting dog, and now we enjoy waterfowl and upland game hunting.

North Dakota has been a great place to expand my hunting and fishing knowledge and I’m so glad I took the chance and applied for a job here. Choosing this career did require me to relocate to a different state, but I really enjoy it here and do not regret it.

If you’re interested in a career as a game warden, feel free to reach out to your local warden to learn more about the position.

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