Texas Parks and Wildlife Boater Education Moves to Law Enforcement, Kim Sorensen Hired as New Manager
AUSTIN, TX – When long-time Boater Education Manager Tim Spice hung up his sun-shading hat last August, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Executive Office, the Communications Division and the Law Enforcement Division, began a full review of the state’s Boater Education program to determine what’s best for its future. After an in-depth review of the National Recreational Boating Safety Grant requirements, state statutes, business needs, constituent needs and national best practices, it was determined that the program would be most effective aligning with other recreational boating safety functions currently administered in the Law Enforcement Division. In October 2020, Boating Law Administrator Cody Jones and Outreach and Education Director Johnnie Smith worked together to transition the functions of the program between divisions.
In November 2020, the Boating Education Managers position was posted and candidates from across the nation applied. From an extremely qualified candidate pool, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s own Kimberly Sorensen rose to the top and was selected as the Department’s new manager.
Kimberly brings a wealth of knowledge of water safety, paddlesports safety and boating safety to her new role. She is an American Canoe Association certified instructor trainer for SUP and Kayaking, an American Red Cross Lifeguard instructor and an avid boater. Over the last twelve years she has worked with local non-profits and paddle sport educators to ensure proper skills and safety on and around the water.
Kimberly served the state parks division as an outdoor education specialist and diversity engagement coordinator for the last 7 years. In 2013, she joined the Texas Outdoor Family program and began forming community partnerships using a train-the-trainer model. Through this process she formed relationships with 20+ community partners in the Houston area that continue to bring an audience to overnight camping workshops. Her ability to manage community partnerships and build ongoing relationships will serve her well in her new role. As the Diversity Engagement Coordinator for state parks she worked with employees and volunteers to create a welcoming environment for all. Kimberly focused on community engagement to connect an underrepresented audience to state park resources by implementing visitor experience training, community engagement toolkit (SharePoint site), state park community connections newsletter and expanding the state park workforce culture committee with representatives in all regions. The combined efforts help employees learn new perspectives, achieve state park diversity and inclusion goals and build relationships with local community partners.
“Boater education is a vital function—people’s lives are literally on the line,” said Johnnie Smith. “Working in collaboration with Law Enforcement, this important role is well positioned to grow and thrive. Kimberly is the right person to lead this critical effort and I look forward to working with her.”
Law Enforcement Division Director Cody Jones is happy with the move and leadership. “The Texas Boater Education program is in good hands with Kimberly and we look forward to the continued engagement with the boating and water safety community and future growth of the program as we continue to serve the constituents that enjoy Texas treasured waterways.”
Welcome aboard, Kimberly.