Boyum named Conservation Officer of the Year

TCR/Scott Bestul Conservation Officer of the Year Mitch Boyum
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

Mitch Boyum, who patrols Fillmore and parts of Houston counties, was named the Minnesota DNR’s “Conservation Officer of the Year” at a recent ceremony at the DNR’s training facility at Camp Ripley.  Boyum has served as a Conservation Officer (CO) for the DNR since 2000 and was nominated by his supervisor, Tyler Quandt. “Mitch has been a fantastic officer his whole career,” Quandt said. “He does his job without complaint in a very professional manner, has high integrity, and is well-liked, even by people he has to give tickets to.”

Quandt said he nominated Boyum for his consistently excellent manner of service. “One thing many people don’t know about the DNR is that we’re made up of seven divisions, and being a good CO means working well with people from each of those divisions. Everyone across the board speaks very highly of Mitch when they talk to me,” he said.

Boyum has family in the Peterson area, but graduated from St. Charles High School in 1991. “I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement early in life,” he said. “Rod Humble (retired Minnesota State Trooper) is my mom’s uncle and he was a role model. I became interested in being a CO in high school. I was walking past the Ag class one day, and Bob Wallace, the area warden, was speaking to the class about his job. I stopped to listen, and that was it. “

After graduation, Boyum attended Winona State University for a year, then transferred to Vermillion Community College in Ely, Minn. “At the time, they had the only program in the state for natural resources law enforcement,” Boyum recalled. “After graduation I took a job in Stevens Point, Wisc., as a county park manager for a year, then came home and was hired as water patrol officer in Winona and Fillmore Counties. I hired on as a deputy for the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department for five years, worked as a police officer in Winona for a year, and was finally hired as a DNR conservation officer in 2000.”

Boyum’s first CO assignment was Fairmont, Minn. “I worked there for a year, then transferred to Rochester,” he said. “It’s interesting how the different areas of the state affect the emphasis on your job. In Rochester I spent most of the fall working goose hunters and guides. When CO Dan Book retired from the Peterson area I was able to come here, where it’s all deer and turkeys and ginseng.” 

An active outdoorsman since childhood, Boyum continues to hunt deer, small game, and turkeys, in addition to fishing and digging ginseng each fall. But most important to Boyum now is passing on his love of the outdoors to his sons Brooks (12), and Briggs (8). “I love taking them hunting for squirrels, rabbits, turkeys,” he said. “And last fall we were hunting for ginseng in the Whitewater area, on some of the same hills where I learned to dig as a boy.” Boyum, wife Katrina and their sons live in St. Charles. “Probably the biggest challenge to this job is balancing work with my family life,” Boyum said. “There’s no second shift, so if I’m sitting down to dinner with my family, or getting ready to go to one of the boy’s games, and the phone rings, I have to decide which is the priority.”

Boyum’s coverage area is huge, running from Highway 76 to Highway 52 east/west, and I-90 to the Iowa border north/south. “Fortunately, all the CO’s in the southeast district work well together, and we help each other with cases all the time, which makes the job easier than it could be without that cooperation.” Boyum said. And though there are periods, such as summer and late winter, that are relatively quiet, Boyum’s phone gets very busy the rest of the year. “I’ve been getting a lot of ginseng-related calls when the price got really high,” he said. “And of course deer season is always busy. Lately, I field a lot of calls regarding CWD, and the rules governing the special hunts.”  

But among the state’s strong CO force, Boyum has distinguished himself as a tireless steward of natural resources. “Mitch is a truly humble person that would never shine a light on himself, which is one of the many qualities I admire in him,” Quandt said. “There are 150 conservation officers in the state, and most of them will never receive the Conservation Officer of the Year Award. I’m pleased and proud that Mitch received that honor, because he absolutely deserves it.”