DIMONDALE, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking people who want to become conservation officers.

The 23-week training academy starts July 15 in Dimondale, near Lansing. Applications are due March 1.

The academy is the first step to becoming a Michigan conservation officer. During the academy, recruits become paid state employees.

“The academy demands total effort and commitment,” 1st Lt. Steve Burton, training section supervisor, said in a statement. “It challenges recruits academically and physically. But those who succeed are on the path to an exciting, fulfilling career as a Michigan conservation officer.”

After graduating, recruits become probationary officers and spend several more months training throughout the state before being assigned to one of Michigan’s 83 counties. The entire training process, which includes the academy, takes one year before candidates become full-fledged conservation officers.

Interested applicants must be: at least 21-years-old before graduating from the academy; allowed to lawfully possess a firearm in Michigan; possess a valid Michigan driver’s license and satisfactory driving record; possess a clean criminal record absent of any felony convictions; submit to a thorough background investigation; complete an entry level law enforcement exam; and pass the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards physical fitness test.

DNR officers are certified police officers with authority to enforce all state laws. They also have unique training in areas related to the outdoors, such as off-road driving, survival tactics and first aid.

A detailed guide to the application process is available at michigan.gov.

Last year, 22 men and women successfully made it through the academy.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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