VU Conservation Law Majors complete grueling 24-hour Green Mile Challenge

VU Conservation Law majors as the Green Mile Challenge.

May 13, 2024

VINCENNES, Ind. - The culmination of the Green Mile was nothing short of impressive, showcasing the determination and resilience of Vincennes University Conservation Law Enforcement majors. As 28 VU students completed a 24-hour challenge, they collectively achieved a feat worth bragging about: covering over 18 miles through walking and running plus conquering 1,000 meters of swimming.

“The Green Mile was the most fulfilling and fun experience I have had in my life so far,” Curtis Hansard of Muncie, Indiana, said. “Not only did I learn so many things about myself, I learned things that are important to my future career as an Indiana conservation officer."

He added, "The experience of the VU Conservation Law program is truly one of a kind, and I would not trade it for any other degree.”

Water survival training at the VU Aquatic CenterThis real-world learning challenge that closed out the Spring 2024 Semester pushed the limits of physical endurance and tested their practical skills in scenarios mirroring those encountered in conservation law enforcement.

With this incredible accomplishment, VU students have earned well-deserved bragging rights, demonstrating their readiness to tackle the demands of their future careers with confidence and prowess.

“You can really do anything you can put your mind to,” Grace Nofzinger of Auburn, Indiana, said. “If you are determined and have a positive mindset you can accomplish what you want to. The Green Mile really helped me better understand what I would be getting myself into as a conservation officer and helped me realize what I need to improve to become better for my future career.”


As the sun rose, it was time for the students to test their mental and physical endurance. The Green Mile kicked off at 7 a.m. with a rigorous fitness test at the VU Track and Field Complex, setting the stage for an intense 24 hours.

Fitness test at VU Track ComplexUnder the guidance of VU Conservation Law Enforcement Program Chair and retired Indiana Conservation Officer Eric Doane, they honed their wilderness survival techniques at Robeson Hills, a 545-acre outdoor laboratory and environmental education site in Lawrence County, Illinois, managed by VU. They demonstrated essential skills for navigating and surviving in remote environments.

“The Green Mile has showed me how important mental toughness is,” Makaila Arnold of Lebanon, Indiana, said. “Professor Doane has stressed to us the importance of mental toughness, but it takes going through something like the Green Mile to demonstrate just how important it is. It also prepared me for expecting anything while working. We could be doing a “normal” day of checking fishermen at a lake and get a call for a missing hiker and be in the woods for 12 hours.”

Scenario-based training sessions at Ouabache Trails Park provided students with hands-on experience in law enforcement situations, led by experienced VU alumni conservation officers.

Later in the day, water survival training at the VU Aquatic Center further equipped students with vital skills for operating safely in aquatic environments, ensuring their readiness to respond to various conservation-related emergencies.

Another highlight of the Green Mile was a mock search and rescue mission conducted overnight at Robeson Hills, putting their training and teamwork to the test in a simulated emergency scenario. Students were divided into three search teams and tasked with locating a "lost" hiker. Within 90 minutes, they located him in very rugged terrain but encountered a twist. They learned a hiker also had a friend missing, so they reset. They located and treated the "injured victim" plus carried him ¾ mile to safety. Despite the physical and mental challenges, participants demonstrated resilience and determination, showcasing their commitment to proper safety and practices in conservation law enforcement.

Mock nighttime search & rescue mission at Robeson Hills."The search and rescue was a great experience," Evan Halstenberg of Vevay, Indiana, said. "We got to see how stressful a real operation can be. In the real world, you’re showing up on scene with very little information. Our search area was smaller and it still took us three to four hours. This is an example of how a search in Hoosier National Forest could take days!"

The Green Mile culminated with a 3 ½ mile ruck march that started on the north side of the Vincennes Campus and traveled along the Wabash River to the George Rogers Clark Memorial, finishing at sunrise.


Completing the 24-hour challenge is an extraordinary accomplishment, epitomizing the preparedness of VU’s Conservation Law majors to excel in their chosen field through rigorous real-world training.

According to Doane, "We are immensely proud of our students for their outstanding performance and dedication during the Green Mile. This practical exercise provides valuable hands-on training and fosters teamwork and camaraderie among students, preparing them for the challenges they will face in their future careers."

VU continues to prioritize experiential learning and real-world training, including exercises like the Green Mile.

Wilderness training at Robeson Hills.“The Green Mile will benefit me in my future career,” Garrett Mobley of Osceola, Indiana, said. “It gave me a glimpse of what we will learn in recruit school. I am currently in the process of becoming an Indiana conservation officer. I also plan on applying for Michigan conservation officers.”

To learn more about the VU Conservation Law Enforcement Program, visit

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