Jonathan Lee named top TWRA officer in 15-state Southeast
Thousands of wildlife officers patrol the woods and waters across the Southeast. Last week, one of them was named the best wildlife officer in the Region.
“We are excited to announce that Rutherford County Wildlife Officer Jonathan Lee was honored as the top officer of 2013 in the 15-state Southeast,” said Major Cape Taylor, who supervises officers in the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II. “He is an outstanding person who gives his all at everything he does.”
Wildlife officers get judged by their peers on ability to communicate with the public, create educational opportunities about the outdoors, and to provide law enforcement that helps assure sound wildlife and fish management.
“Jonathan had a great year, but he always does,” said Taylor. “He received the top award that is possible for a wildlife officer in all of Tennessee and then he got the honor again for the entire Southeast. It was well deserved.”
In addition to his duties as a TWRA officer, Lee is also a veteran of the Iraq War, having served in 2009 with the 267th Military Police Company in Bagdad. Prior to deployment, he was assigned to the Tennessee Army National Guard in Murfreesboro.
“It was a huge honor for me, but also I consider it an honor for my partner,” said Lee a few days after being named the Southeast’s best wildlife officer. “Matt Brian and I work side by side and he is excellent at his job.”
Lee was named best officer on Oct. 15 during the annual conference of The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which the TWRA has long attended and hosted two years ago. The conference was in Oklahoma City this year.
A native of Byrdstown, Lee attended Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville to earn his degree in Wildlife Management and he became a TWRA wildlife officer in 2007. He spent his first year as the officer in Shelby County before transferring to Rutherford County in 2008.
Lee’s military experience along with his “natural” leadership skills has often made him a top selection to help train other officers, according to Captain Jim Vaughn, who supervises wildlife officers in Region II’s District 21.
“Jonathan’s combat experience in Iraq as a military police officer made him an obvious selection to attend a recent Officer Down training class that taught both active shooter situations and combat first aid,” said Vaughn in the best officer nomination form submitted to the TWRA and then later to the SEAFWA.
In addition, his competence as an officer in the field had good consequences for a teenager who was “critically injured” last fall while riding an all terrain vehicle on a TWRA wildlife management area in Rutherford County, according to Vaughn.
“The county’s special operations unit could not locate the missing person so they contacted Jonathan and Officer Matt Brian for help,” said Vaughn. “Jonathan used his knowledge of the area and was able to locate the teenager after walking a mile off the road. He then was able to direct a medical airlift helicopter to the scene and get the young man the help he needed.”
Whether it is boating, wildlife, or fish related enforcement work, or educational or special events that pertain to the outdoors in Rutherford County—such as Free Fishing Day or Wounded Warrior functions—Lee always demonstrates a passion for his job and the local community.
“Jonathan has the most positive, upbeat attitude toward his profession of anyone that I have ever worked with or supervised,” said Vaughn. “It is easy to work with him and stay just as upbeat as he does because of his attitude.”
Jonathan is the son of Charlie and Belinda Lee of Byrdstown.