Matthew Poole, a maintenance grounds technician with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Missouri State Parks, has been selected as the department’s Team Member of the Month for December 2022.
Poole was selected for his service to the department and his efforts while responding to a UTV accident at St. Joe State Park near Park Hills.
As part of his usual duties, Poole is part of the four-person maintenance crew at St. Joe State Park. He regularly completes tasks such as mowing, light repairs and vehicle maintenance, among others.
In late July, he witnessed smoke in the distance rising out of the park. Being very familiar with the facility, he recognized that the smoke was coming from the off-road vehicle riding area.
Poole quickly radioed for help and set out in a park vehicle to investigate, unsure of what he would find when he arrived. He traced the smoke back to a UTV that had caught fire while on a trail. He quickly verified that the rider was OK and shifted his attention to the fire.
After calling for additional help, Poole immediately began building a fire line to contain the blaze that was starting to spread from the UTV into surrounding vegetation. Assistance from the Park Hills Fire Department and Friends of St. Joe State Park arrived, and the fire was extinguished with minimal damage to the surrounding area.
Poole’s actions prevented a potential wildfire.
“On a 100-degree day, creating a fire line on your own with basic hand tools is nothing short of an extraordinary effort,” said Carrie Lykins, the park superintendent who nominated Poole for the award. “His actions no doubt saved the park.”
Poole joined the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in August 2021 and lives in Bismarck.