AUSTIN — Two Texas Game Wardens were recognized this week for their outstanding efforts and contributions toward supporting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) mission.
Shikar-Safari Club International Recognizes Justin Solis as Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year
Aransas County game warden Justin Solis was named the 2020 Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year by the Shikar-Safari Club International. This marks the 41st year this award has been presented to a Texas Game Warden.
Solis was a graduate of the 58th Game Warden cadet class in 2013 and began his career as Texas Game Warden in Webb County. In 2016, he transferred to his hometown of Rockport in Aransas County.
Solis’ dedication to his community is evident during the yearly kid fish event that he has organized, planned and led for the last three years. The event, called “Go for fish, not drugs”, is held annually during Free Fishing Day and allows kids and parents to enjoy the outdoors and learn about fishing laws, boating safety and fish identification.
Solis has also partnered with Flatsworthy, a local conservation chapter, to help design a watercraft that would allow increased patrols to far reaches of the bays in Aransas County while conserving sensitive bay bottom habitat. Solis’ invaluable feedback led to the creation of a “flats” boat that was donated to TPWD and has been instrumental during recent conservation and water-safety patrols.
Solis is a member of the Law Enforcement Region 8 Fisheries Team that is dedicated to the enforcement of fisheries laws via coordinated patrols in areas of high commercial activity. As a member of the fisheries team, Solis routinely travels to areas outside his assigned county where he ensures the importation of aquatic products follow the regulations set forth by the department.
Jon Kocian Named 2019 Midwest Officer of the Year
The Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers recognized game warden Jon Kocian as Midwest Officer of the Year for his service and accomplishments.
Kocian graduated from the 48th Game Warden cadet class in 2003 and has served in Victoria County for over 17 years. Kocian holds a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University and is a licensed Texas Master Peace Officer.
Kocian was awarded the TPWD Director’s Life Saving Citation in 2016 for rescuing and saving the lives of two women kayakers when their kayaks overturned due to swift water in the Guadalupe River.
In 2019, Kocian led Operation Tres Bahias which spanned over five counties and involved 25 Game Wardens. During the operation, Kocian briefed the team of wardens before each operational day on the specifics for alcohol detection on the water and provided support to wardens during the operation that resulted in: 140 vessel contacts, 11 warnings, 16 citations, 8 boating while intoxicated arrests and the recovery of a stolen boat.
In 2020, Warden Kocian was instrumental in the update and launching of the new Field Training Officer program (FTO) for both Texas Game Wardens and State Parks Police Officers.
The Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers is comprised of 29 member agencies from the United States and Canada. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a member since 1995.