FROM BOTTOM TO TOP
Colonel Sammy Martin Has Worked In Almost Every Facet Of LDWF’s Enforcement Division
story by ADAM EINCK, LDWF Public Information
Climbing the corporate ladder is an expression most people know. It usually means starting at the bottom in your profession and rising up through the ranks and, in some rare instances, reaching the highest position possible for that career field.
For the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division the same expression can ring true for a select few that have gone all the way from cadet to colonel, the highest-ranking position in the division.
For newly promoted LDWF Col. Sammy Martin of Chauvin no job has been too big or too small as he has filled every rank during the course of his career (except for the newly formed corporal position) and has pretty much run the gambit of assignments and responsibilities for an LDWF agent along the way.
Martin’s long illustrious career began in 1982 when he started as a cadet and he reached the highest rank of colonel in September of 2017.
“When I started I knew this career was the one for me, but I never imagined I would ever reach the highest rank of colonel when I started,” said Martin. “It took me 35 years to get to where I’m at and I’m very honored to be leading such a fine group of agents within the enforcement division.”
Martin was born and raised “down the bayou” in Chauvin in Terrebonne Parish where he has lived his entire life. He grew up both saltwater and freshwater fishing, duck hunting and then later in life he focused on bass fishing tournaments.
“My dad got me and my three brothers interested in the outdoors at a very young age,” said Martin. “Growing up in south Louisiana was an outdoors playground, so to speak, and we spent a lot of time fishing, hunting and feasting on the resources that surrounded us when it came to fish, shrimp and game and whatever else we could catch or harvest.”
After graduating from high school, Martin spent the next few years working in the oil field. It was at this time that Martin said he heard about becoming an LDWF agent and after doing some research into the position, he knew he wanted to work in the outdoors and become an agent.
Martin took the law enforcement test then administered, applied for the agent position in his area, went in for his interview and then was hired at the age of 22.
“They did things a little different back then,’’ Martin said. “After I was hired, they told me to stop downstairs and get my uniforms and then stop at a place on my way home to purchase a pistol. I went home and put on my uniform and met the agent I was going to be working with and started working that night. As a matter of fact I made my first night hunting case and wrote my first citations that night with my training agent. I actually worked for six months as an agent with my duty agents before I went to any kind of academy.”
After getting on the job training for six months, Martin was sent to state police in Baton Rouge for eight weeks to get his Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification and then an additional two weeks for duck identification and water survival training.
Martin’s first six years were spent as a field agent patrolling Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes as well as Grand Isle. He said he spent a lot of time in lower Terrebonne Parish because he knew many waterways being from that area.
“We pretty much dealt with every kind of case that a wildlife agent could deal with except for turkey.’’ Martin said. “We had hunting, saltwater and freshwater fishing and then we also have the commercial fishing side of things, too. I made a lot of closed season commercial shrimp and oyster cases as well as night hunting cases.”
Martin spent his first three years as an agent and then was promoted to sergeant in 1985. After 12 years as a sergeant, Martin was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1997, which put him in charge of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and Grand Isle, including those agents that patrolled the area.
It was during this time that Martin won LDWF’s Agent of the Year award in 1992. Martin also won a Meritorious Service Award in 2006 and the LDWF Chief’s Award in 2014.
In 2004 Martin was promoted to captain of the Thibodaux Office which covered Assumption, St. James, St. John, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and Grand Isle.
“The agents that work in these parishes run nonstop,’’ Martin said. “It never stops because you have the commercial fishing industry that runs year round and then you still have the regular hunting seasons and also have saltwater and freshwater fishing.
“I was also the captain when we had hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. We were performing search and rescue missions in the area while me and some of the other agents’ homes were flooded from the storms.”
After serving as captain of the Thibodaux office for five years, Martin was promoted to the rank of major in 2009 working at LDWF Headquarters in Baton Rouge. He oversaw four of the eight enforcement regions as major.
In 2014, Martin was promoted to lieutenant colonel and put in charge of the boating safety program, serving as the state’s Boating Law Administrator, budget, search and rescue, training, emergency services, statewide strike force, maritime security, public information, quartermaster, communications and aviation sections among other duties.
Then in September of 2017, Martin achieved the highest rank possible of colonel and was put in charge of the entire LDWF Enforcement Division.
“It was a great honor to put on the colonel wings and something I’m very proud of, but it also comes with a great responsibility,” said Martin. “My job now is to lead these agents and keep morale high in the field. I know what it was like to not have good pay or equipment and I hope to keep the agents happy with their compensation and their gear.”
For most of Martin’s 35 plus year career, his wife of 31 years, Tina, has been with him for all the trials and tribulations that comes with being an LDWF enforcement agent. Together they have two sons, Blake, 28, and Alex, 24.
“Having a supportive family is very important to having a successful career as an agent,” said Martin. “Agents work a lot of hours with many of those hours at night and on weekends. I couldn’t have achieved all the things I have in my career without the support of my wife and our two boys.”
Martin also feels that all his years of experience and performing just about every facet of being an agent along the way will help in guiding him to become a successful colonel.
“I know what it is like to be a field agent, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain,’’ Martin said. “I’ve been in all of their shoes before and think it is very important to spend time at each one of those ranks. These experiences have given me a well-rounded perspective on what it means to be an enforcement agent and how I can effectively lead these agents as their colonel.”
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