Agent of Change

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

who’s forgotten more about a subject than I’ll ever know.”

“Carl has always been devoted to the state, to the Conservation Department, and to his job,” said retired Newton County Sheriff Joe Abramovitz. “I don’t know any conservation agent that’s more devoted to his job than Carl. I think he gets better as he gets older.”

Dark-haired, and with a sturdy 6-foot-4 frame, Engelbrecht shows few outward signs of turning 69. However, when he talks of past experiences, his veteran status becomes clear.

Engelbrecht recalls, for example, the programs he did for 33 one-room rural schools in the Newton County area—none of which are in existence today. He describes the conversations he had with his supervisor, “when I could get through,” on his state-issued 12-watt radio that had two frequencies. (Today’s conservation agents converse on 110-watt radios that have more than 250 frequencies and can interface with city, county and state law enforcement agencies.) And he talks of local restaurants being packed with hunters on the opening day of quail season. “Today, you’re lucky if you walk a long way and find one quail hunter,” he said in a wistful tone.

Adjusting to adjusting

Engelbrecht’s duties—and the tools agents use to enforce regulations—have changed greatly since he first donned his uniform. Today’s Protection Division of the Missouri Department of Conservation includes approximately 200 agents who work in Missouri’s 114 counties. Their duties include educating Missourians of all ages about the importance of conservation.

A job that once focused solely on enforcing Missouri’s fishing and hunting laws now includes duties such as eliminating meth labs on Department areas and providing assistance to city, county and state law officials with investigations of crimes that occur on state-owned land. Conservation agents use global positioning systems, night-vision optical equipment, electronic metal detectors, radio-controlled wildlife decoys, laptop computers and a variety of other state-of-the-art technological devices to assist them in their duties.

Before beginning their job in the field, new conservation agents must complete six months of training in Jefferson City. However, education and testing will continue throughout their careers. Conservation agents must take part in physical fitness testing and meet Protection Division fitness standards twice a year. They also must take part in firearms qualification three times a year. They must receive first responder/CPR certification annually. In addition, each agent must complete at least 42 hours of Peace Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.) every three years.

Engelbrecht admits that he hasn’t embraced all

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