Spending time outdoors has been a part of Matt Manuel’s life for as long as he can remember.
“I was about four when my dad bought me my first Red Ryder BB gun,” said Matt. “He started me early on gun safety and how to shoot. By the time I was eight, I was dove hunting on my own on our farms in Louisiana. It’s what I did pretty much every day and on weekends growing up, and I still hunt with my dad every chance I get.”
His family owns and operates several agricultural operations in Louisiana, and his dad invests in agricultural properties still to this day. That directly impacted Matt’s career aspirations, and after earning a finance degree from Louisiana State University, he began his professional career as a loan officer at a Farm Credit Bank in Louisiana. Career opportunities brought him to Texas, and he now works for Conterra Ag Capital as vice president and relationship manager for the Southern Region of the United States. The job comes with some priceless perks.
“We get to finance some really unbelievable farms and ranches in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and throughout the Southern US, and fortunately, I get invited to hunt. I’ve grown to really love the Panhandle area of Texas, where I’ve had the privilege of hunting pronghorn, mule deer, whitetail, and upland birds with clients on some beautiful properties.”
The outdoors has been part of every important moment in his life.
“My first date with my wife was at our duck camp in Louisiana. She had never shot a shotgun before, but she was very curious about watching my chocolate lab, Sioux, hunt. I shot my limit that day pretty quickly and asked her if she wanted to give it a try. I swear she closed her eyes and shot two birds with her first shot, just like that. I am pretty sure that was the moment I knew she was the girl for me.”
He bought her a fly rod, and asked her to marry him soon after.
“She can hold her own with a fly rod, and that’s something we do together. Last year, we took our two-year-old with us on a fly fishing outing in Park City, Utah.”
The couple now lives in Frisco with their two daughters. The hustle and bustle of North Texas living has been a bit of a culture shock for him. Getting involved with Stewards of the Wild has helped. Stewards of the Wild is Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s conservation leadership program, which is aimed at young professionals.
“It’s been wonderful. I can tie so many of my friendships—not just in Dallas, but Texas in general, and both from a professional and a personal standpoint—back to Stewards. The Dallas Chapter has so many types of members, from those who have had outdoor experiences all their lives, like me, to folks who didn’t have those opportunities but want to learn all about it. I just love being able to expose people to hunting or fishing.”
He participated in one of the Stewards mentored hunting weekends by taking a couple from Austin on their first dove hunt.
“I love opportunities like that to be able to share what I know, answer their questions and try to shed a really good light on why we love what we do.”
Matt has stepped up as co-chair of the Dallas Chapter of Stewards of the Wild.
“We’re over 240 members in Dallas now, and we’re working to regain membership after COVID-19. We have some really good leaders on our team, and we’ve offered some phenomenal events all around the state this year, more so than we ever have. We’re trying to offer more educational programs, and we’re really focused on getting more women involved, too.”
Matt encourages anyone who is interested in conservation to get involved.
“Our goal is to continue to build leaders in conservation. You don’t have to be a big hunter, you don’t have to be a big fisher, but everyone should understand that it all plays a role in the conservation of our lands and opportunities for the next generation.”