Today, Governor Kristi Noem announced that Kelly Hepler, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), will retire, effective December 15, 2020.
“Kelly is an accomplished leader and has been a fierce advocate in the fish and wildlife resource management field for over 40 years,” said Governor Noem. “He has been a dedicated public servant to the State of South Dakota since 2015, navigating countless challenges to protect our state’s natural resources. As he retires, I know he will enjoy even more time in our great outdoors, hunting with his dog, Marty. I wish him all the best in his next chapter.”
Hepler was appointed Secretary of the Game, Fish and Parks by Governor Dennis Daugaard in 2015 and has continued to serve under Governor Noem. Hepler began his career as a fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). He served ADFG in various management and leadership roles, including assistant director, and then director, of the ADFG Division of Sport Fish.
“I have been extremely blessed in my career to combine my love and passion for the outdoors with what I do for a living,” said Secretary Kelly Hepler. “The highlight of my career has been serving as secretary of GFP in my home state of South Dakota. It has been my honor to work with the department to provide sustainable outdoor recreational opportunities while cultivating stewardship and connecting people with our world-class outdoors. I am extremely proud of all of our staff and I will never forget my time with the department. I am grateful to Governor Noem and our department staff who continue to champion getting families outdoors every single day.”
Hepler was born in Deadwood and graduated from Spearfish High School. He received his bachelor's degree in fish and wildlife management from Montana State University in 1978. Hepler and his wife, Carol, reside north of Pierre. They have two grown children and are avid fans of the Green Bay Packers.