Making history: Woman first to lead Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division
Published 1:40 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023
By Ed Pratt
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
BATON ROUGE — Rachel Zechenelly has been named the first woman to head the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Enforcement Division. With the appointment, Col. Zechenelly now leads Louisiana’s second-largest statewide law enforcement agency.
Email newsletter signup
Zechenelly, a 24-year veteran of the LDWF enforcement division, succeeds Col. Chad Hebert, who is retiring this summer after 30 years with the agency. She will oversee a staff of about 257, which includes enforcement agents and support staff.
Zechenelly, a native of Pearl River, has earned numerous awards during her LDWF career. Among those distinctions include the LDWF Meritorious Service Awards for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Harvey, Irma and Ida, and the 2016 Flood and BP Oil Spill. She was named the LDWF Agent of the Year for Headquarters Staff in 2008 and received the LDWF Chief’s Award in 2022.
In selecting Zechenelly, LDWF Secretary Shadoin Rob said, “I have the utmost confidence that Col. Zechenelly is the right person to take over the management of the Enforcement Division and the dedicated men and women there. She has proven herself with her vast experience and successful leadership in many roles in Enforcement.”
“I also extend a heartfelt thanks to Col. Chad Hebert who served the Enforcement Division in a very professional manner, including the last three years as its leader,” said Shadoin. “Col. Hebert’s leadership has been vital, especially during several life-saving recues in the aftermath of major weather events in the state.”
Responding to her promotion, Col. Zechenelly said, “Everything I have achieved in my career has prepared me for this moment. From graduating the academy, to being a field agent, being in charge of both administrative and patrol sides of the division and serving under the tutelage of past colonels, all have aided me in receiving this prestigious promotion.
“I’m also grateful for the privilege of serving under Col. Hebert who has been a great mentor to me. I am honored and humbled to serve the over 200 field agents as their Colonel and will work hard to continue the advancement of the Enforcement Division.”
Col. Zechenelly graduated from the LDWF Enforcement Division Cadet Academy in 1999. She served as a field agent in the state’s southeast region before being promoted to Headquarters’ staff in 2005. At headquarters, she was a critical component in implementing the state’s safe boating education program in its infancy. She was also named the state’s boating law administrator and assisted in writing several safe boating law changes.
During her time as a major and a lieutenant colonel, Zechenelly has served on both the administrative and patrol sides of the Enforcement Division. She has been in charge of the Enforcement Division’s budget, training, safe boating program, recruiting, communications and emergency services. She has also supervised four different patrol regions across the state.
Col. Hebert, of Schriever, received numerous awards during his LDWF career, including the Statewide LDWF Agent of the Year Award in 2001, the Region 9 Agent of the Year in 2001, Outstanding Officer in 2001 and numerous Meritorious Service Awards.