News Release

For Immediate Release
Lee Walker, VDGIF Outreach Director, 804-912-6121

NOTE: This news release was distributed on 11/20/2013. The information below may no longer be the most up-to-date information available, or may pertain solely to events that occurred in the past. Please contact the person listed as the contact person for this release for the most current information.

Senior Conservation Police Officer Neil T. Kester Honored by NWTF

Senior Conservation Police Officer Neil T. Kester has been named the 2013 Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Conservation Police Officer of the Year. Officer Kester will be honored at the Virginia State Chapter Awards Banquet, January 25, 2014, at the Valley View Holiday Inn in Roanoke, Virginia. He will be the Virginia State Chapter nominee for the NWTF National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at the NWTF National Convention and Sport Show held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Officer Kester is assigned to the Verona Office of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). He currently resides in Augusta County. He has twenty-one years as a Law Enforcement Officer, thirteen as a Virginia Conservation Police Officer and eight years as a Senior Officer. Officer Kester has been one of the top officers in violation detection in District 42 which covers the counties of Augusta, Rockingham, and Highland for several years.
Officer Kester is an active member of the Augusta Area Chapter and the Wheelin' Sportsmen Chapter of the NWTF, and participates in their community outreach programs, including NWTF JAKES, a program promoting responsible and safe hunting for youth. He also participates in Wheelin' Sportsmen events and has provided great hunting experiences for both youth and disabled hunters on numerous occasions.

Officer Kester is an enthusiastic spring turkey hunter and has achieved his personal goal of a 'Grand Slam' by harvesting four subspecies of turkeys in the states of Virginia, Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Kester, his father, and his grandfather have made the pursuit of spring gobblers a Kester family tradition. Neil was assisting his grandfather a few years ago by being the turkey caller when Mr. Kester fulfilled his dream of a Grand Slam at the age of 89.

"We're proud to honor Senior Officer Kester with this award," said Rick Layser, President of the NWTF Virginia State Chapter. "Wildlife officers such as Officer Kester are essential front-line protectors of wildlife. We thank him for his outstanding service."

Officer Kester's dedication, work ethic, professionalism, and positive attitude shine through as he performs his work enforcing wildlife, fishing and boating laws and promoting safety and education. The NWTF and the citizens of the Commonwealth have benefited greatly from his commitment to duty and outstanding efforts.

About the NWTF - The NWTF is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. The NWTF was founded in 1973 and has worked with wildlife agencies to restore wild turkey populations from 1.3 million wild turkeys to nearly 7 million today. Now, NWTF's volunteers raise funds and work daily to improve critical wildlife habitat, increase access to public hunting land and introduce new people to the outdoors and hunting. Together, the NWTF's partners, sponsors and grassroots members have raised and spent more than $372 million preserving our hunting heritage and conserving 17 million acres of wildlife habitat.

For more information about the Virginia State Chapter of the NWTF or a picture of Officer Kester go to or call Rick Layser at 540-490-0350. For more information about the NWTF, go to

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' mission is:

• to manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth;
• to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia;
• to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing, and
• to provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing and boating opportunities.

For more information about the VDGIF: