At the January 21 Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recognized Game Warden Matt Kiel as 2015 Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year for his work in the field. This marks the 46th consecutive year this award has been presented to a Texas Game Warden.
Kiel began his career with TPWD in January 2010 when he entered the 55th Texas Game Warden Training Academy. After graduating from the academy, he was stationed in Brewster County for three years before moving to his current duty assignment in McLennan County.
During the past five years, Kiel has become an expert at navigating the county’s public waters, logging nearly 500 hours of boat patrol every year and filing several water safety violations. Kiel has also mastered the use of side scan sonar as he patrols public waters, using the technology to locate drowning victims and stolen submerged vehicles.
In addition, Kiel’s knowledge of the Brazos River made him an instrumental part in developing and implementing a water safety plan for Baylor University’s new football stadium, which was built on the bank of the river in 2014. As part of the water safety plan, Kiel trained a Marine Safety Enforcement Officer class of 30 Waco police officers and forged relationships with several local law enforcement agencies, first responders and the Department of Public Safety.
Kiel is also a certified National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Officer Water Survival Instructor, crisscrossing the state to teach law enforcement officers and new game warden cadets about water safety practices.
Finally, in addition to his duties as game warden, Kiel has also been an active member of his community. He organizes boating and fishing programs for inner city youth and serves as the point of contact for local media. He also volunteers at Baylor School of Law to educate students about game warden duties and presents to the County Commissioners Court about boating while intoxicated enforcement and zebra mussels.
At the Commission meeting, SEAFWA also recognized TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist Brian Van Zee as the 2015 Biologist of the Year. Van Zee, stationed in Waco, was honored for his work in helping TPWD combat the introduction of invasive zebra mussels to Texas waters, one of the greatest threats Texas fisheries resources have faced. Find more information about Van Zee’s award here.