PRATT – The Law Enforcement Division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism recognized officers and other individuals for work and services performed above and beyond the call of duty. The annual awards are presented in several categories, including Meritorious Work, Lifesaving, Natural Resource Education, Boating Safety Enforcement, Investigations, Cooperative Projects and Officer of the Year.
The Merit Award was presented to Capt. Dan Melson for his work in developing and maintaining the Game Wardens’ Facebook page and an application allowing the Law Enforcement Division to more efficiently record violations.
Game warden Jonathan Rather was awarded the Natural Resource Education Advancement Award for his work in implementing hunter education programs in the area school systems.
The Boating Officer of the Year Award was presented to game warden Jeff Clouser for his extensive work in the area of boating safety enforcement, including dealing with stranded boaters, investigating boating accidents and enforcing boating under the influence laws.
Game warden Hal Kaina received the Lifesaving Award for his efforts in two incidents where individuals were facing life-threatening circumstances. In one incident, officer Kaina rescued a hunter who had broken through the ice. In another incident, officer Kaina aided in the rescue of four individuals, including children, after their boat had sunk in the middle of the reservoir. Game warden Cody Morris was awarded the Lifesaving Award for his assistance in rescuing a family adrift on a boat with a motor that would not start.
Lt. Rick Campbell and game wardens Jesse Gehrt and Travis Schulte received Lifesaving Awards for rescues they performed on the Kansas River. In one situation Lt. Campbell and officer Gehrt rescued a man whose canoe had overturned in the river. Later in the summer, a family who were floating the Kansas River became stranded on a sandbar after getting caught in a severe thunderstorm. Officers Gehrt and Schulte, along with a local emergency medical technician, got the family, which included a 4-month-old baby, to safety.
The Richard Harrold Memorial Award for Investigations was presented to game warden Josh DeHoux for his efforts investigating big game violations in his assigned area.
The Director’s Award was presented to a large group of game wardens, department staff and a private citizen for their work in hosting the conference of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Those recognized include: Major Dan Hesket, Capt. B.J. Thurman, Lt. Eric Deneault, Lt. Dave Adams, Lt. Jeff Sutton, Lt. Mike Peterson, Lt. Scott Hanzlicek, Lt. Bob Funke, game wardens Michael McGinnis, Cody Morris, Jesse Gehrt, Tracy Cikanek, Dennis Zehr, Jim Bussone, Matt Hanvey, Jon Entwhistle, Vince Wonderlich, Scott Leamon, Jeremy Stenstrom, Ross Uhrmacher, Glenn Cannizzaro, Mike Hopper, Greg Salisbury, Landen Cleveland, Ryan Smidt, Lance Hockett, Chris Stout, Daniel Howard, Aaron Scheve, Clint Lee, Jacob Greene, Lynn Koch and Jonathan Rather; Erika Brooks and Shelby Stevens of the Education Section; Jason Deal and David Jenkins of the Public Lands Division; Tony Reitz of the Parks Division; and volunteer, Jenna Scheve.
Game warden Jesse Gehrt received the Officer of the Year Award, a joint recognition by the Law Enforcement Division and the Shikar Safari Club International. Gehrt has performed his duties above and beyond what is normally expected, and is extensively involved in all aspects of being a game warden. Apart from his daily duties, ties to his local community, and many other contributions around the state, Gehrt is also a member of the division’s Honor Guard.