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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Wildlife and Parks supervisor teaches next generation to love the outdoors

  • Growing up, Manuel Torres didn't know much about the great outdoors until a family friend showed him what he was missing.
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  • Growing up, Manuel Torres didn't know much about the great outdoors until a family friend showed him what he was missing.
    "They kind of mentored me," Torres said. "And those experiences with them are what made me passionate about this line of work in the first place."
    Torres graduated from high school in Montezuma and went to Fort Hays State University to study fishery and wildlife biology. In 1994, he began working for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Torres started off working in the Garden City office, but two years ago was promoted to the Region 3 Public Lands Supervisor and works in the Dodge City office.
    "Working and interacting with the public everyday is my favorite part of the job," Torres said. "We're a customer based organization so making sure the customer is taken care of is always my main priority."
    As the region 3 public lands supervisor, Torres is responsible for managing and maintaining all state owned properties including the Pratt Sand Hills and Clark State fishing lake, budgeting, assisting the managers in making sure they can complete their jobs in the field and he is also law enforcement certified.
    "The goal of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is to protect and enhance our natural resources while recruiting youth to the outdoors," Torres said. "I try to keep that in mind with everything I do."
    Torres went on to say that recruiting youth to wildlife is probably the hardest part of his job.
    "We're competing with a lot of technology today," Torres said. "And it can be hard to get kids interested in spending time outside when they have so many other options."
    The best way to get kids interested in more outdoor activities, according to Torres, is to get them to experience it just once.
    "Everyone remembers their first fish or their first camping trip or first hunting experience," he said. "And once they've experienced it, it will benefit them for the rest of their lives."
    Torres also tries to reach out to people of all ages through several different education classes and programs. He hosts a Spanish hunter education class, as well as several English classes, bow hunting, fishing clinics, and will go to local schools and give presentations to students.
    "If we reach them when they're young, not only will they want to be active in the outdoors throughout their life, but they will also be able to help us protect our natural resources when they get older," Torres said.
    Despite all the challenges Torres has to deal with, he says that is is one of the most rewarding jobs he can imagine.
    "To have the ability to be in a job that deals with the outdoors and the public, specifically today's youth, on a daily basis is the best thing I could ever imagine to be doing," Torres said.
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