Early life and education
Born January 9, 1967, in Denver, Colorado, Matt Bevin was the second of six children born to Avery and Louise Bevin. He grew up in the rural town of Shelburne, New Hampshire, in a small farmhouse heated by wood-fired stoves. His father worked at a wood mill, and his mother worked part-time in a hospital admissions department. The family raised livestock and grew much of their own food. At age 6, Bevin made money by packaging and selling seeds to his neighbors. He credits his involvement in 4-H, where he served as president of the local and county chapters and as a member of the state teen council, with developing his public speaking and leadership skills. He was also involved with the county's Dairy Club.
Initially attending a small Christian school, in tenth grade Bevin enrolled as a student at Gould Academy, a private high school across the state line in Bethel, Maine. He paid his tuition through a combination of financial aid and wages from an on-campus dishwashing job and various summer jobs. After graduation, he attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, on a partial ROTC scholarship. During his matriculation, he studied abroad in Japan and became fluent in Japanese. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies in 1989.
After taking eight weeks off to complete a 3,800-mile (6,100 km) bicycle ride from Oregon to Florida, Bevin enlisted in the United States Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. In 1990, he completed a six-week Junior Officer Maintenance Course at Fort Knox in Kentucky. He later commented that the area reminded him of where he grew up, and that if he had a chance to raise a family there, he would like to do so. He was assigned to the 25th Field Artillery Regiment of the Army's 5th Mechanized Infantry Division at Fort Polk in Louisiana. During his assignment, he also trained at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, completing 40 credit hours of Central Michigan University coursework offered on base. He rose to the rank of captain – earning the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, and Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster – before joining the Army Reserve in 1993. He left the Individual Ready Reserve in 2003.