Agent's Training Class
agents who work with the trainees are certified by the Department of Public Safety to teach POST-approved classes. The Missouri State Water Patrol, Highway Patrol and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also help train applicants.
While attending classes, trainees live and eat at the Highway Patrol Academy in Jefferson City, where they get comfortable rooms and good food. They are often housed there with Highway Patrol recruits, Water Patrol trainees and other law enforcement personnel.
A trainee's uniform is the same colors as an agent's uniform, but not the same style. Trainees are also supplied a car or truck to use in traveling to training assignments around the state; if several are going to the same area, they share the ride. The Conservation Department divides the state into nine protection regions, and trainees work in each region at least once.
Trainees do not have much spare time during the six months of instruction. They spend mandatory study time two nights per week, and must study for exams and produce book reports. They may get one-third of their weekends off, when they are free to leave Jefferson City, but they have to work holidays, as they will after graduation and assignment to a county or area.
Larry Yamnitz, a Protection Division programs supervisor, oversees the agent trainee's six-month introduction to the Conservation Department. In the field (often on weekends), trainees accompany a field training agent.
"Working with an agent gives the trainee the opportunity to see what they are learning in the classroom being put into application in the field," Yamnitz says. "Then, as time goes on, their participation increases to where, eventually, the conservation agent is a shadow in plain clothes, while the trainee fully does the job.
"We keep grades for certification, so everyone knows what their grades are, what percentage they are making on exams," Yamnitz adds. "At the end of training we usually recognize and honor the top academic student and the top firearms qualifier with a trophy or plaque."
New agents are assigned to whatever Missouri counties or areas are in need. "That decision is made well in advance of graduation so they can start planning and looking for housing, but it just depends on what is available and where the Conservation Department feels they will do the best job, based on their education, experience, background and how they performed in training," Yamnitz says. "We