PAGE 9 MAZINA’IGAN WINTER 2018-2019 Children at Ashland’s Our Lady of the Lake school explore an extensive fur collection. INSET: In addition to regular discussions about wildlife, the recent gathering included domestic animals and pets. GLIFWC Warden Christina Dzwonkowski-Burns shows a goat at the Back to School petting zoo. (submitted photos) • ENFORCEMENT • Meet the warden For the last seven years, Matt Kniskern has served as an Eastern District Warden for GLIFWC, covering the Lac Vieux Desert area. Recently, I caught up with Officer Kniskern to learn more about his interests on and off patrol. How did you know you wanted to be a conservation warden? I always liked the outdoors. Hunting and fishing was a big part of my life growing up, so finding a job that would keep me in the outdoors was important. I also wanted a job that allowed me to give back, especially to kids. In college, I took natural resource classes and minored in Native American studies. That put me on the right track to get the job I wanted. It wasn’t easy! What’s your favorite book? “Flags of our Fathers” by James Bradley. It’s a book about World War 2. I read it before I joined the military and it was very influential, one of the reasons I joined. By Paula Maday, Staff Writer Officer Matt Kniskern and 6-year old Chloe Baumgartner pose for a photo at C.O.P.S (Concerns of Police Survivors) Kids camp. The camp is for kids who have lost a loved one that served in law enforcement. Kniskern has participated in the camp for four years. (submitted photo) Where and how long did you serve in the military? I joined the Marine Corps out of high school, left for boot camp in 2001. I completed two years of training before being stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. From there, I deployed to Iraq from 2004-2005. When I got out of the Marines in 2006, I went to college at Northern Michigan University. What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned from your job? One of the things that fascinates me is how much I learn from young kids. This summer, we traveled around the Ceded Territory with a handful of kids and I was amazed at what they taught me me every day. From birch bark harvesting to other cultural crafts, kids have an ability to turn every day into a lesson. That’s what I like about working with kids, they’re a wealth of knowledge and they don’t even know it. How do you build your relationship with local youth and the community through your position? OneofthebiggestrequestswegetfromcommunitiesinMichiganisforsafety programs, so we offer a lot of classes throughout the year: hunter’s ed, snowmobile safety, boater safety, Canoomin. We’ve developed a good safety program. And we go above and beyond in those classes. We get them out shooting and riding snowmobiles. We partner with a lot of agencies to make that happen. I also try to involve myself in every youth camp that I’m available for: GLIF- WC’s Camp Onji-Akiing in the summer, various winter camps held throughout the CededTerritory, and theYoung Leaders camp that travels to different reservations. What are some of your hobbies or things you like to do in your free time? I like hunting, fishing, hiking, anything outdoors. I enjoy working out and running. If I’m home, I like cooking. I love cooking wild game! When you get time off from work, what’s your ideal vacation? It doesn’t matter where I go, as long as the vacation is based all around food. I will try anything and everything! I’ve eaten road kill, porcupine, snapping turtle eggs, organ meats. Wild rice has been a game-changer for me. That’s one of the things I’ve learned at the different camps is how to prepare it in different ways and from different family recipes. I’ve learned how to puff the rice, how to make it into granola, and how to make it into a burger patty. That was really good. There’s only one food I’ve ever tried and can’t stand: olives! Since you’re such a foodie, what snacks do you keep in your truck when you’re on patrol? Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, pepper flavor. It mixes well with black coffee. And pink lady apples. Critter of the Month program welcomes portable petting zoo GLIFWCEnforcementDivision’sCritteroftheMonthprogram organized a special “Back to School” petting zoo September 27 for children at Our Lady of the Lake School and Bad River Head Start. Inadditiontoregulardiscussionsaboutwildlife,therecentgathering included domestic animals and pets. Every month I meet with approximately 130 kids and teach them about a featured critter, including reading a book, and giving each student a GLIFWC Anishinaabe coloring book. On this special day, the kids got to explore a huge table with an extensive fur collection with Lacey Hill-Kastern, a wildlifespecialistfromBadRiverNatural Resources Department, standing by to answer questions. Children were able to see and touch a collection of live snakes, lizards and turtles with Lexi Williams of Snakes of theNorthlakes.Outside,thechildrenwere able to see goats, a duck, a baby rabbit, severalchickens,andaguineapigwithits two babies brought by Tawnya Spriggs. The petting zoo was a huge success and we’re looking forward to planning a bigger and better event next year. For more information about the Critter of the Month program email me at —C. Dzwonkowski-Burns