ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Lisa Kruse has worn the badge and uniform as a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer since 1998.

Growing up on a farm in western Minnesota, she developed a love for the out of doors. Now, she’s well into a career that aims to protect the people who recreate and the resources they cherish.

“We’re going up to total strangers everyday and having conversations with them, asking for licenses, limits and what equipment they’re using,” said Kruse.

But the problem is that there have been too few of her to enforce the all of the state’s natural resource, environmental and recreational laws. Years of funding shortages have left many DNR enforcement positions around the state unfilled.

In fact, there are about as many conservation officers assigned to field locations as there were back in 1941. Since then, the state’s population has more than doubled, and snowmobiles and ATVs weren’t even a consideration 70 years ago. Not to mention the growing number of watercraft and hunting and fishing licenses which require enforcement.

“We’re always stretched thin,” said DNR enforcement chief Jim Konrad.

Thankfully, Konrad and his staff will finally be able to hire and fill many of the vacancies. A $1.6 million legislative appropriation will pay for the training and hiring of up to 26 new officers.

Konrad says he anticipates the first round of hiring to bring on eight officers for DNR academy training next spring. Another 18 officers could follow beginning in the fall of 2012.

The biggest requirement for the job is that successful applicants must first have a valid Minnesota peace officer’s license.

“We also look for people active in the outdoors,” said Konrad. “In other words, hunters and fishermen and also people committed to being firearms safety instructors and snowmobile safety instructors.”

Working holidays, weekends and overnight stings isn’t the most glamorous job and isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it can be downright dangerous. Still, if it keeps people and resources safe, you’ve got a lot in common with conservation officers like Lisa Kruse.

“I would say 98 percent of the people we deal with want us to be out there, and want to be out checking people,” said Kruse.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their resume to the database through the online Resume Builder. Applications must be submitted no later than Oct. 14. For more information, contact Enforcement Recruitment.