CSI: Faribault County
An investigative team arrives at a crime scene and finds a Chevrolet pickup with bullet holes.
Amber Engebretson of Bricelyn and two other Riverland Community College classmates — John Jorgenson of Austin and TJ Lynch of Hayfield — put their expertise to work during the SkillsUSA’s 46th annual National Leadership Skills Conference held June 20-25 in Kansas City.
The three-member team’s mission is to legally collect and process evidence.
The result: the trio are national champions and have the gold medals to prove it.
“We were pretty confident we had done well. I knew we had aced it,” Engebretson says. “But, we didn’t find out the results until two days later.”
During her down time at the convention, Engebretson ran in a 5K race and kept busy with three of her children who went along.
In the competition Lynch lifted fingerprints, while the other two took photographs, removed and bagged evidence.
Once the crime area was processed, team members drew a scene sketch, marked all items and submitted a written reportIt was Engebretson’s job to write up the report.
Normally investigators would take hours to assemble their data, but that wasn’t the case.
“We had only 30 minutes to put it together. The report had to be concise, it wasn’t anymore than half a page long,” she says. “We also put together a photo log to describe what might have happened. We had to be efficient and work well together.”
It was the first time Riverland law enforcement students would compete nationally.
To make the trip to Kansas City, Engebretson and her teammates had to qualify by taking first place at the state level.
While proud of her individual accomplishments, Engebretson is quick to credit her family for any successes experienced so far.
“They have had to sacrifice a lot while I’ve gone to school. I thank them and everyone who has helped me. It’s been a challenge,” she says.
Pursuing the career of her choice hasn’t been an easy road for Engebretson.
After graduating from Albert Lea High School in 1995, she attended Riverland in Austin part time while working.
In 2003, Engebretson earned an associate of arts degree, got married and went to work full time.
When she lost her job in February 2009, Engebretson decided it was time for a change.
“I’m a hands-on and people person. I wanted a career that was well respected and where I could help people,” she says.
In one year, Engebretson was able to complete a law enforcement and corrections program.
Next on Engebretson’s educational to-do list was a skills course at Rochester Community and Technical College.
Six months of physical training, learning self defense and improving one’s marksmanship proficiency are just a few areas students worked on.
Making it through and passing surely is quite an achievement, but even more remarkable for a mother of three who was expecting another child.
“I had a baby boy when I was going to school in Rochester. After he was born I had six weeks to pass my physical fitness portion,” she says.
Engebretson can’t remember how far she had to run or how many pull-ups and sit-ups she had to do in one minute.
What’s important is she did pass.
For now, Engebretson works part time as a Faribault County jailer.
She plans to take on-line courses through Southwest State University in Marshall, when she’s not working a 12-hour shift or taking care of the children.
“My major is going to be education. I can see myself teaching a law enforcement course one day,” she says.
So far, Engebretson has shown she has the discipline, organizational skills and multi-tasking abilities needed to attain her goals.