Mississippi’s Longest Serving Executive Director of MDWFP Retires


Dr. Sam Polles, the longest-serving Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), is retiring after 29 years, July 1992 to February, 2022.

MDWFP is one of a very few agencies that touches the lives of citizens across this state every single day. Whether it be through out State Park System, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), State Lakes, Fisheries Education Centers, Hunting or Boating Education Programs, the Museum of Natural Science Educational Outreach Programs, State Shooting Sports Facilities, Archery in Schools Program, or the Officers of our Law Enforcement Bureau, the dedicated men and women of this agency work tirelessly to provide daily services to Mississippians in every corner of this state!

During nearly three decades of his leadership, Polles has guided the agency toward many groundbreaking accomplishments that have affected citizens across the Magnolia State. These include:

  • Implemented point-of-sale systems for purchasing licenses, boat registrations, and park facilities reservations
  • Expanded WMAs to offer the sporting public high quality hunting opportunities unlike any in the Southeast, and state lakes system and other public waterways providing anglers with storied fishing experiences
  • Improved the State parks system despite continued budget cuts, record storms, aging infrastructure, and a lack of external support
  • Developed State-of-the-art shooting facilities at McIvor, McHenry, and Turcotte
  • Implemented an “award-winning” Archery in School in Scholastic Shooting programs, which promote outdoor recreation to the state’s youth
  • Established a first-class Conservation Officer Training Academy at Holmes County State Park
  • Established, trained, and equipped statewide Special Response Team within the Law Enforcement to assist local communities in the event of natural disasters or any potential threat to public safety
  • Developed and implemented a comprehensive career ladder for the professional staff of the agencies’ Law Enforcement, Wildlife, and Fisheries Bureaus
  • Constructed the new Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the state office headquarters

“I could have never imagined in 1992 that this opportunity would evolve into a life’s calling that would endure for nearly three decades,” said Polles. “During this time, I have been blessed to work with one of the most capable, committed, and talented team of professional public servants found anywhere, at any level of government. The men and women of this Department are often not appreciated for their tireless efforts, but they remain steadfast in their commitment to preserve Mississippi’s rich and historic conservation heritage for generations to come.”

Polles, originally appointed by Governor Kirk Fordice, has served under five governors during his career.