CODY - Worland Game Warden Matt Lentsch was recently named 2011 Wildlife Officer of the Year by both the Shikar Safari Club International and the Wyoming Game Wardens Association for his outstanding achievements in the field and dedication to youth hunter and angler recruitment.
Scott Werbelow, game warden coordinator for the Cody Region, said that Lentsch is very deserving of the award. “Matt continually demonstrates an outstanding commitment to wildlife and has taken a special interest in inspiring and educating Worland area youth to continue Wyoming’s long tradition of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation,” Werbelow said.
Lentsch has been actively involved in the Worland community for 20 years and has been instrumental in the development of numerous educational programs designed to recruit young men and women into hunting. “Kids who have strong mentors and are taught to make good, ethical decisions at an early age tend to be responsible, ethical hunters as adults,” Lentsch said. “From a game warden’s perspective, this is very important.”
Lentsch’s involvement in youth education began in 2000, when he developed the Paintrock Hunter Mentor Program, which paired adult mentors with youth who spent two weekends a month throughout the summer learning hands-on lessons about outdoor ethics, wildlife biology, habitat improvement, and shooting skills. After successfully completing the program, youth were given opportunities to hunt elk and deer on private land while accompanied by their mentor.
In 2006, Matt began coordinating the annual JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship) youth activities exposition for the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation – an event that has drawnover 70 participants annually. Over the past six years youth participated in almost every outdoor activity imaginable including such things as canoeing, spin casting, wildlife identification, archery, rifle, shotgun and handgun shooting, primitive weapons, geo-caching, and mountain biking.
Most recently Lentsch expanded his outreach efforts by organizing a similar event called the Worland Outdoor Day for all fifth grade students in the Worland elementary schools in 2011 and 2012.
Lentsch has also been responsible for developing the Young Hunters’ Care program in which young hunters harvest, process, and then donate venison to Big Horn Basin area families in need. Lentsch has served as a volunteer for the Worland area 4H shooting sports program, assisted with several Eagle Scout projects, annually participates in the Basin Eagle’s kids fishing day, and always lends his talent to local hunter safety classes.
Lentsch started with the Game and Fish in 1989 and was appointed to the Worland game warden position in 1992.
(Contact: Tara Teaschner (307) 527-7125)