The membership of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) elected Kelly Hepler to serve as its new president during its 109th annual meeting last week in St. Paul Minnesota. He will serve as the 2019 – 2020 President.
Hepler currently leads the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks as its Secretary.
“It is an absolute honor to be selected to serve as President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). This is a crucial time for state agencies as we work to recruit and retain the next generation of hunters and anglers while maintaining relevancy, said Hepler in an AFWA news release.
“I have complete faith that our conservation community will prevail. I look forward to working with the state and Canadian agency directors and all the outstanding AFWA staff in the coming year. I pledge to maintain a high level of excellence and commitment to continue advancing the conservation legacy AFWA has established.
A native of South Dakota, Hepler began his career as a fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), moving into various management and leadership roles. In his role as the assistant director, and then director, of the ADFG Division of Sport Fish, Hepler's primary responsibilities were in the planning, staffing, and development of strategic operations, while overseeing a $50 million budget and 450 employees. Hepler has been Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks for over 4 years.
Safari Club International offers its congratulations to Kelly Hepler and looks forward to working with him on issues of importance to SCI and AFWA.