New Liskeard-based Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Conservation Officer Mike Schenk has been named 2020 Conservation Officer of the Year.
A CO for more than two decades, the MNRF North Bay enforcement unit member has worked for the ministry across northern Ontario since the early 1980s. He has patrolled the Temagami area for the last 18 years, the Ontario Conservation Officers Association (OCOA) stated.
Schenk is widely respected and relied upon by officers and staff from internal and external organizations, evidenced by the long list of people that supported his nomination, the association stated in a press release on Wednesday, July 15.
CO an invaluable asset
He is an accomplished investigator and instructor who has demonstrated his commitment to the job and to protecting the public and our natural resources, officials stated.
“Mike is a very deserving recipient of this year’s award,” stated OCOA President Sean Cronsberry. “Mike has been an invaluable asset to our profession over the years, both as a skillful investigator and as an instructor. In the field, Mike is among the best officers we have at taking statements and conducting thorough investigations. In the classroom, Mike is a captivating speaker who speaks from experience.”
Schenk’s career highlights include investigations into night hunting, forest fires, illegal black bear outfitting operations, illegal netting and commercialization of fish, moose hunting with a focus on the inhumane killing of wildlife, and projects with a focus on public safety-related offences.
He has received two OCOA Life Saving Awards, an OPP Commissioner’s Commendation, and multiple Appreciation in Motion awards from the MNRF.
Recipient dedicated volunteer
Schenk has developed and delivered training for fellow COs and MNRF staff, as well as hundreds of natural resource related presentations to youth/public groups, hunter safety classes, cottage associations, park visitors and angler and hunter groups.
A dedicated volunteer, Schenke has also led and supported food drives, taken part in the Cops for Cancer campaign, and is an active member of the Temiskaming Anglers and Hunters Association and Temiskaming Bullseye Club.
The Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Lieutenant instructs at the local Army Cadet Corp and has been a Scouts Canada Scout leader and Beaver leader for five and two years, respectively.
Schenke said he is truly surprised and humbled by the award.
“I was raised in a family environment full of outdoor adventure accompanied by terrific lifelong friends, so a career in natural resource management and enforcement was an excellent lifestyle fit for me,” he stated. “I share this award with all the dedicated officers and MNRF staff that I have worked with over the past 36 years, we have effectively learned and supported each other in the pursuit of sound resource conservation. It has been a privilege to be an Ontario Conservation Officer, I wish I could turn back time so I could live the adventure all over again.”
Officers are nominated for the award by their peers and chosen by a committee made up of officers, representatives of the Ontario Conservation Officers Association, and ministry managers.
Schenke was also awarded the MNRF Conservation Officer of the Year Award and will be receiving the Shikar-Safari Club International Ontario Wildlife Officer of the Year Award, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Conservation Officer of the Year Award, and he has been nominated for the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association Officer of the Year Award.