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Marshalltown native named S.D. Conservation Officer of the Year

February 20, 2010
By Garry Brandenburg

Congratulations to Jeremy Rakowicz for the award he will receive this week. His peers looked over his nomination and concluded that he deserved recognition as the 2009 South Dakota Conservation Officer of the Year. Way to go Jeremy!

Rakowicz began working for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department in 1997 at Ipswich, SD. He is now stationed in Sioux Falls. Besides his regular duties as a conservation officer, he is also a wildlife training officer who assists new officers as they prepare for their duty stations. He is also a defensive tactics instructor. He is a positive role model to new officers as he helps prepare them professionally and to instill high standards of work ethics.

Jeremy graduated from Marshalltown high school in 1990 and went on to college that eventually landed him a degree from South Dakota State University in 1996. The summers of 1990, 91 and 92 had him returning to Marshalltown where he was a summer intern employee of the Marshall County Conservation Board. As this scribe can attest, working with youth attempting to gain a foothold on a conservation career, I often looked deeper than just providing a summer job for the temporary position. I saw potential in this young man and knew he could excel if properly mentored. It was during those summer assigned park and wildlife related duties that he endured the 'grunt work' of manual labor that goes with typical natural resource management. And those summer work credits did help him focus on the career that was beginning to bud within his mind.

Article Photos

Marshalltown native Jeremy Rakowicz was nominated for and will receive the 2009 South Dakota Conservation Officers Association Conservation Officer of the Year Award. The presentation will take place in Chamberlain, SD during their law enforcement training conference on Feb. 22-25, 2010. This award is the result of a nomination process by active COs and retired members of the SDCOA. Rakowicz is the son of Gerald and Lyn Rakowicz of Marshalltown.

Even now, Jeremy is always seeking self improvement and is willing to take on leadership roles within the Department. He took over the supervisory duties of a fellow officer that was called to active military service in 2008 and part of 2009. Jeremy is a well respected Officer who fully understands the mission of South Dakota Wildlife Law Enforcement. He and his fellow officers actively seek out wildlife violators who intentionally commit wildlife violations against state resources.

Rakowicz balances his law enforcement duties with community based presentations, media interviews, quality landowner contacts and many school support activities. He still finds time to be involved in nearly 20 HuntSAFE courses in Minnehaha County. Jeremy is a team player who effectively works together with other officers in and near Sioux Falls. Those contacts include a spirit of cooperation with regional staff and other law enforcement agencies. Jeremy truly cares about his presence with the public and shows a high level of respect for all that have the opportunity to visit with him. A major part of law enforcement duties involves prevention through education.

Jeremy is married to Rebecca Baer, also of Marshalltown. Her parents are Lyle "Butch" and Mary Baer. Rebecca is a Nurse Practitioner at the NICU at Avera McKennan Hospital. Jeremy and Rebecca have three children, Mason 10, Bryan 5 and Kerrigan 2. Jeremy enjoys outdoor activities with his two sons and mentored Mason last year during his first youth deer hunt. The proud son was able to take a nice doe deer and told his dad, "I can't wait to tell mom." A beaming father didn't have to say a thing except "well done."

Jeremy Rakowicz is a valuable asset to the Wildlife Division within the Game, Fish & Parks Department. He is a valuable asset to the citizens and friends of South Dakota. His SD Conservation Officer of the Year Award is well earned. Congratulations Jeremy Rakowicz. Well done.


GAME WARDENS across the USA are spread pretty thin. They have a tough job to do and there aren't enough of them. Trying to get one up on the bad guys who steal from the citizens by abusing and violating state and federal fish and wildlife laws involves many hours of specialized detective work. Human nature is such that there will always be someone who figures out a way to cheat the system. To uphold the high ethics of sportsmanship is a duty that rests on all hunters and fishermen. Game wardens are just one very important tool to help insure that natural resources are managed the way they were intended.

For all the sportsmen and women that play by the rules, conduct their outdoor fishing, hunting, swimming, boating and camping activities with huge doses of common sense and fair play, I say "kudus to you for your high standards of conduct." For those who violate the laws and ethics of outdoor sports, I hope you will always be looking over your shoulder for the game warden that may be right next to you. The surest way to not have to worry is to amend your actions toward 'do it right the first time.' Always legal means never having to worry.

Nationwide, there are about 500,000 peace officers. Nationwide there are only 7,000 Conservation Officers. Most CO positions require a college degree. They often find themselves working alone in remote locations, without backup. Hours of work are anything but routine with many late night forays in cold, wet, or mosquito infested settings. Time off may last only as long as the telephone does not ring. And that is not often. Hats off and a big salute of appreciation for the game wardens of the USA.


ANTLER SCORING will take place Tuesday night, Feb 23rd, beginning at 7 pm at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. Bring in those antlers from this year to see how the scoring system works and learn more about the whitetail of Iowa.


A fantastic film about ANTARCTIC WILDLIFE will be offered free to the public on Thursday night, Feb 25th. The 7 pm program will be held at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown starting at 7 pm. Local Conrad resident Cliff Wilson went on a National Geographic trip to Antarctica in November 2009. He will be present to answer questions at the end of the program. Host for the evening is the Central Iowa Ornithologists Bird Club. And there will be plenty of great photos of birds and other wild critters to see. You all come.


DUCKS Unlimited's Iowa River Chapter hosts their annual membership banquet on Feb 27th, next Saturday evening at the Regency Inn. Doors open at 5 pm. A great meal is planned and a vast array of top quality merchandise or art works will also be available. This is just not an event for those who hunt in the wetlands of central Iowa. It is a worthy cause to support by anyone who has any inkling of appreciation for wetland habitat and the huge numbers of non-game and game animals that live in wetlands. Tickets can be purchased at the door.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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