Matt’s roots are deep in the Kansas landscape, going back to a time when the prairie was unbroken and his ancestors homesteaded the land. Working in conservation delivery gives him a purpose that aligns with his desire to give back to this part of the world, which has given such meaning to his life.
For the first 25 years of his career, Matt worked for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) where he was involved in all aspects of conservation work on private lands — from sitting at the kitchen table with landowners and “kicking dirt” with them in the fields to helping shape wildlife policy in the Farm Bill. Those experiences helped him see that a person can affect change in different ways, starting at the individual level and scaling up to a broad landscape.
While serving on the PLJV Management Board as the KDWP representative, including a year as board chairman, Matt observed how the joint venture could be nimble and pursue innovative ideas to accomplish partners’ goals. Working more closely with this diverse partnership to implement a shared vision appealed to him, and Matt joined PLJV in 2019.
As part of PLJV’s conservation delivery team, his job is all about putting habitat on the ground, which he says is the culmination of many things such as strategic planning, conservation design, and outreach efforts. One of his current projects, which has been very rewarding, is helping community members better understand how restoring natural systems can benefit people and their access to water.
Matt is quick to note that his degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Pittsburg State University opened the door to conservation work, but that was when his real education started. He’s still learning and thinks maybe he’ll have things figured out one day.