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Big Picture Students Learn About Becoming an Environmental Conservation Officer

By Ellen Bagley, Physical Education Teacher for the Big Picture Learning program located at the Elm Street Academy in Cuba (NY)

Mr. Jason Powers, an Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO), came to visit our Big Picture Program at the Cuba Elm Street building on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.  Mr. Powers described the variety of careers that are performed for those interested in becoming an ECO.  To my surprise, we had 24 students/teachers attend the presentation.

Jason gave each student a pamphlet that described many of the possibilities available to them if they pursued this career.  He also explained his daily routines, scheduling, salary, travel, personal experiences, the pros and cons of his position, and much more.  The students were able to ask questions as well.  My advisory came up with a list of 22 questions to ask, so each student had an opportunity to think of a question or ask one from the sheet.

The opportunity to experience careers in depth is great for the students. High school can be hard and thinking about the future is not always easy. Some may pursue a career they know and are comfortable with.  Some may take whatever is available at the time of graduation.  Others plan ahead. It doesn’t matter what route you take, as long as you are happy and feel successful. I think it is very important for students to be able to experience a variety of career options, because there is always something new out there that could intrigue them just enough to develop a new set of goals, a different plan, a future that they may have never seen possible.

Division of Law Enforcement Responsibilities FISH AND WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT

  • * Endangered and threatened species
  • * Commercial freshwater and marine fisheries
  • * Shellfish
  • * Trespass
  • * Taxidermy
  • * Hunting, fishing, trapping including the investigation of all hunting-related shootings

Division of Law Enforcement Responsibilities ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ENFORCEMENT

  • * Water pollution
  • * Air pollution
  • * Oil and chemical spills
  • * Stream protection
  • * Unauthorized disturbances to regulated marine and freshwater wetlands
  • * Mining
  • * Solid waste regulation, and hazardous waste disposal
  • * Illegal demolition
  • * Enforcement of returnable containers
  • * Banned or restricted pesticide sales

Environmental Conservation Officers are at the forefront of New York’s effort to keep our air and water clean, protect our natural resources, and make the environment a better place for all.  ECOs are police officers specializing in the state’s natural resources and environment carrying a 130-year tradition of excellence.


Care about protecting our natural resources and preserving environmental quality?

Value being part of an organization that seeks self-motivated professionals?

Look forward to meeting new challenges that arise day to day, season to season?

Want a career with unparalleled job security, outstanding medical benefits, a secure retirement plan, and the opportunity for advancement?


* ECOs enforce the environmental laws and regulations of New York State and also have the authority to enforce all other state laws such as penal, vehicle and traffic, transportation, agriculture and markets, and navigation laws, as well as regulations for operating snowmobiles and ATVs.

* Officers work with state, federal and even international agencies on investigations.  To enforce fishing regulations and clean water laws, ECOs conduct patrol by boat, using vessels up to 44 feet long off the shores of Long Island and New York City, as well as smaller vessels on freshwater rivers and lakes.


The Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) is a special investigative unit within the division of law enforcement.  BECI officers investigate complex criminal offenses of the Environmental Conservation Law, conduct undercover probes into illegal wildlife trafficking, and pursue serious environmental quality crimes.  These specialized officers often work jointly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies to uncover environmental crimes at the federal level.

K-9 Detector Dogs:

* K-9 units composed of highly trained detector dogs and handlers are valuable members of the law enforcement team.  Detector dogs are certified to detect concealed weapons and illegally taken wildlife as well as track lost/wanted missing persons.  Directed by their handlers, the dogs search vehicles and crime scenes to recover evidence such as guns, knives, shell casings and wildlife.  Handlers and dogs undergo training and certification together.  Each dog is permanently assigned to one handler and lives in the handlers’ home.

Training Academy:

* Every year, new legislation is passed and signed into law, creating new challenges for ECOs.  To meet these challenges, the Division of Law Enforcement maintains its own police training academy, where ECOs receive basic police training, and return for advanced training in specialized areas of environmental enforcement.

For More Information:

ECO webpage:

For position descriptions and how to apply:

Contact Me: Ellen Bagley at

I work alongside the DEC instructing Hunter education and Archery Education Classes and have multiple contacts to set something up if interested.