Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Dave Painter was recognized as the 2011 Conservation Officer of the Year at Thursday’s (March 8) Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing. The Shikar Safari Club International, a natural resources and wildlife conservation organization, honors one Michigan conservation officer with the award each year.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” said Painter, who works out of Crystal Falls. “I am deeply honored. To be chosen from the great corps of officers we have in the department is truly a humbling experience.”
Painter is a worthy recipient of the award, said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.
“As a 17-year veteran of the department, Conservation Officer Painter’s dedication and attention to duty are unsurpassed,” Hagler said. “We appreciate very much his strong work ethic and passion for protecting our natural resources.”
A Clinton County native, Painter was assigned to Crystal Falls in 1995, immediately after graduating from the police academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
“I’ve never seen any reason to leave here,” he said.
Painter has worked with handicapped youths and children from single-parent homes through several foundations as well as Wildlife Unlimited in Iron County.
“I like anything that helps gets kids involved in hunting and fishing,” he said. “Really any kid, who wants to get involved in the outdoors, I’m there. And I also really enjoy the daily contact with the sportsmen as part of my job.”
Painter, 45, is married and has three sons. He enjoys hunting, fishing, fish-decoy carving and coaching youth sports.