National Wildlife Refuge System

Three New Division Chiefs

Three individuals recently named as division chiefs in the National Wildlife Refuge System, headquarters operation Washington, DC, rose through the ranks of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are Jeff Rupert, Chief of the Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning; Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the Division of Visitor Services and Communication; and James L. Hall, Chief of the Division of Refuge Law Enforcement.

The Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning oversees wilderness policy and refuge issues such as invasive species management, water rights and migratory birds. The Division of Visitor Services and Communication promotes high-quality natural resource interpretation and visitor experiences on refuges. The Division of Refuge Law Enforcement coordinates the policy, training and budget for the Refuge System's law enforcement program.

Jeff Rupert, formerly manager of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, grew up in Kearney, Missouri, and graduated from Kearney High School. After receiving his bachelor's degree in biology from Baker University in 1991, he joined the Service as a biological technician at the National Ecology Research Center (NERC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. While there, he conducted bird research on eight National Wildlife Refuges.

In 1998, a year after receiving his master's in biology from the University Texas-Pan American, he was hired as refuge biologist at the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, along the border with Mexico. Two years later, he became the refuge's manager. In 2006, he was named manager of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, one of the nation's most heavily visited refuges, averaging 1.5 million visitors per year.

Rupert recalls his amazement when he first set foot on Quivera National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas as an undergraduate. "Until then I had no idea there was a National Wildlife Refuge System. I can vividly remember thinking, ‘Wow, you can have a job doing this. Incredible.' Quite frankly that's still how I feel today. It's an unbelievable opportunity."  Rupert and his wife, Corinna, have two children, River and Indy. Rupert assumed his new post September 1.

Cynthia Martinez, former manager for the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a fifth-generation New Mexican whose family has lived in the area since the 1850s, decades before New Mexico became a state. The Desert Refuge Complex encompasses about 1.6 million acres of land. It includes the largest National Wildlife Refuge (Desert Refuge) in the lower 48 states, habitat for 17 endangered and threatened species, and the greatest concentration of endemic species in the country.

Cynthia graduated from Bloomfield High School in northwest New Mexico; then earned a bachelor's degree in biology from New Mexico State University and a master's degree in fisheries and wildlife management from the University of Arizona. She began her 16-year Service career in the Student Conservation Education Program, working as an assistant contaminants specialist in the Phoenix, Arizona, Ecological Services Field Office. Cynthia later served as a fisheries biologist and an assistant field supervisor for the Southern Nevada Field Office.

She is a member of the board of directors for the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership (www.snap.gov), a multi-agency partnership of land stewardship professionals who work to conserve public lands in southern Nevada.

Martinez and her husband, Kenny, have a daughter, Keisha, and a son, Marcus. In their spare time, the couple enjoys coaching their daughter's fast-pitch softball team. Martinez assumed her new post September 7.

James L. Hall, a Refuge System law enforcement officer since 1992, is a native of Paulding County, Georgia. He grew up hunting and fishing on a small country farm. At age 12, while hunting with his father at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Macon, Hall had his license checked by a refuge officer. The officer's conduct so impressed Hall that he decided to become a federal wildlife enforcement officer.

Hall graduated in 1978 from Paulding County High School, where he was a pole vaulter with the track and field team. He received a degree in wildlife technology from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, where he met his wife, Elaine. He worked for two years for the Dallas (GA) Police Department; then earned a degree in conservation law enforcement in 1986 from Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.

In 1989, Hall began his Service career as a tractor operator at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast. One year later, he became refuge manager for Harris Neck, Blackbeard Island and Wolf Island refuges. He received his law enforcement commission from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 1991 and Hall served as deputy refuge manager of Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in east-central Mississippi from 1994 to 1998; refuge manager for St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi from 1998 to 2000; and deputy refuge manager for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska from 2000 to 2007. In 2007, Hall became chief of the Branch of Law Enforcement Operations for the Refuge System. Hall and his wife have two grown daughters, Danya and Katarina. He assumed his new post in August.
Last updated: September 17, 2010