Cranbrook-born Drew Milne has been named 2021 Conservation Officer of the Year by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Milne now works as inspector for the South Coast region - serving the Lower Mainland and Sea-to-Sky corridor, but got his start exploring the great Kootenay outdoors.
“Whether hiking, biking, camping or fishing, Milne often found himself in the backcountry and has fond memories of summers spent on trips exploring forests, lakes, rivers and the sea,” the Ministry said in a news release. “Despite his natural affinity for the job, Milne did not become a conservation officer (CO) right away. Instead, he followed his family tradition into military service, joining the Canadian Armed Forces right out of high school.”
Milne completed six years of military service and was honourably discharged in 2003. He went on to get a natural resource management degree soon thereafter, and joined the B.C. Conservation Officer Service in 2008. His first posting was in Whistler-Squamish, followed by Williams Lake and then Atlin.
“Wanting to expand his skill set, Milne then joined the B.C. Government Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), where he spent three years as a compliance and enforcement officer – Indigenous liaison. But he always felt the COS was his true calling,” said the release. “Returning as a sergeant in the Kootenays, Milne spent time overseeing officers in Invermere, Golden and Revelstoke before transitioning into the role of a training sergeant. Helping recruits and field officers hone their skills is an area he’s still passionate about, with credentials as the COS and the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy’s use-of-force lead instructor.”
He was later promoted to his current position in Vancouver.
“Drew models the qualities and skills that dedicated conservation officers aspire to and he is deeply deserving of this recognition,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Being a conservation officer can be very challenging and complex at times, but Drew inspires his officers to be the best they can be. I want to thank Drew, and all conservation officers, for their hard work and dedication to ensuring our environment, fish and wildlife are protected for generations to come.”
Milne says he has his family, co-workers and mentors to thank for his success.
“My amazingly good-natured wife, dedicated mother and caring sister are more deserving of an award than I am. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am if it wasn’t for those three strong, incredible and competent women. It’s also recognition of the people around me that have allowed me and helped me to do my job,” said Milne. “I have amazing officers and sergeants in my region. I am also incredibly lucky to have incredible mentors that have helped me and pushed me to never stop improving myself. This recognition is also a reflection of them.”
The Conservation Officer of the Year designation is awarded annually to CO’s who go above and beyond the call of duty, and exemplify the values of the COS: integrity, public service and protection of the environment.