Park Rapids Conservation Officer gets top honor from NWTF
The Minnesota chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) named Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Samantha “Sam” Hunter as its Minnesota Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Hunter joined the DNR in 2004 and is currently stationed in Park Rapids.
“When Officer Hunter is asked to help with a NWTF event, or any event promoting the outdoors, she goes and makes whatever contribution to it she can. That’s one of the reasons we chose her as Minnesota’s NWTF officer of the year,” said Dick Snyder, Minnesota NWTF president.
Hunter has volunteered hundreds of hours of her time for disabled veterans and children who want to hunt. She is a guide and a promoter, soliciting volunteers and donations for these hunts.
She has also helped organize, promote and schedule the annual “JAKES Day,” held each summer at Camp Wilderness Boy Scout Camp near Park Rapids.
JAKES, which stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship, is a NWTF program dedicated to informing, educating and involving youth in wildlife conservation and natural resources stewardship.
“The mentoring she provides to youths is tremendously valuable to the future of conservation and hunting in Minnesota,” Snyder said. “The impression she leaves on the kids will last a lifetime. Conservation officers are heroes to them.”
The JAKES event also provides a firearms safety training day with prizes and lots of activities as kids go through the field day training required to earn their DNR hunter safety certificate. About 60 kids attend the camp, but due to its great success a NWTF chapter from southern Minnesota will be renting a bus and bringing even more kids to the event this year.
By earning the award, Hunter and other state winners are eligible for the NWTF’s National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award, which will be presented during the NWTF’s awards banquet on Saturday, Feb. 14, in Nashville, Tenn.