Prior to his current role, Matt Kneisley was one of Delta Waterfowl’s hardest working volunteers. In 2010, he helped found the Lancaster Chapter of Delta Waterfowl, the first local chapter in Pennsylvania — a foothold that’s led to numerous chapters throughout the state. Additionally, he coordinated Delta’s Northeast Advanced Volunteer Program from 2012 to 2014. But Kneisley wanted more, explaining to chief operating officer Jason Tharpe that he desired a full-time role.
“Jason issued me a challenge,” Kneisley said. “Start enough chapters in the Northeast that he’d be forced to hire another regional director.”
So, from 2011 to 2014, Kneisley assisted in the formation of dozens of new chapters in his region and helped several existing chapters to further flourish. Meanwhile the Lancaster Chapter, with Kneisley as chairman, launched Delta Days — a massive, annual event for new waterfowlers that remains a blueprint for other chapters’ youth and First Hunt events. Tharpe made good on his promise, hiring Kneisley in March of 2014.
“To me, Delta is not work, but family, and from my Delta coworkers to our volunteers, my family has now expanded into the hundreds,” Kneisley said. “Professionally, I’m most motivated by Delta’s hunter recruitment efforts. I live for introducing newcomers of all ages and genders to the outdoors, seeing the excitement of first-time hunters and the close bonds formed by the experience.”
Kneisley is also a third-generation decoy carver. He grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and made weekly trips with his father to famed decoy carvers’ shops in Havre de Grace, Maryland, including those operated by Madison Mitchell, the Jobes family, Bill Collins, Jimmy Pierce, Paul Gibson and Pat Vincenti. His wife, Kerri, is the executive director of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.
In addition to carving his own decoys, Kneisley further keeps waterfowling traditions alive by operating a bushwhack boat and body booting for canvasbacks on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.