From the National Shooting Sports Foundation
-- Emphasizing projects designed to reactivate lapsed hunters, introduce more youngsters to hunting and evaluate previously funded efforts, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has awarded Hunting Heritage Partnership grants to seven state wildlife agencies and, for the first time, the regional Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
NSSF is the trade association for the firearms, hunting and shooting sports industry.
A total of $419,150 in grants will be distributed, with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies each receiving two grants. Now in its eighth year, NSSF’s Hunting Heritage Partnership program has contributed more than $3.7 million in support of projects managed by state natural resource agencies.
“These grants will support effective, pro-hunting projects by state agencies that otherwise may not have been launched because of lack of funding during these challenging times for state economies,” said Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF. “These projects address hunting’s biggest challenges, including access, mentoring and using new media tools to communicate with young hunters.”
Melissa Schilling, NSSF’s manager of recruitment and retention who oversees the grant program said, “I am pleased to see that we have our first regional applicant, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. It’s great to have numerous states working together toward a common goal. All state fish and wildlife agencies have a parallel interest in recruiting and retaining hunters.”
Since the inception of the Hunting Heritage Partnership program, 98 grants have been awarded to 37 state agencies and one regional organization for a total of $3,828,653 in support of hunting-related initiatives. Those states receiving the most funds over the history of the HHP program include Idaho ($351,000), Tennessee ($326,625), Virginia ($230,360), Wyoming ($180,000), South Carolina ($179,000), Montana ($175,700), Nebraska ($165,000) and Pennsylvania ($161,800).
This year’s 11 grant recipients include:
Arizona Game & Fish Department—$40,000
Project: To continue the state’s three-year Recruitment Camp Partnership Project begun in 2009 with an NSSF grant. The focus this year is on mentoring new hunters through the game camp model established in partnership with local sportsmen’s organizations.
Idaho Department of Fish & Game—$12,500
Project: To facilitate hunter recruitment by hosting clinics that provide a positive hunting experience for youth and that provide parents with skills needed to independently lead family hunting excursions.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission—$45,000
Project: To use new- and multi-media resources to develop and retain hunters, particularly in the 20 to 28 age range, which showed the greatest dropout rate of all hunters in Nebraska. The state’s new Outdoor U program utilizes online tools to help the participant follow a pathway, such as hunting through various levels of expertise.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation—$40,000
Project: To certify 7,500 to 10,000 students via teacher-led, in-school hunter education courses and thereby recruit 1,000 to 2,000 students to hunting. The initiative is based on survey findings that show National Archery in the Schools Program teachers have considerable interest in teaching hunter education as part of their general school curriculum.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation—$28,500
Project: To provide incentive for the purchase of apprentice-designated licenses and supply those license holders with a free book of maps of the state’s public hunting lands. The overall goal is to significantly increase awareness and understanding of the apprentice-designated licenses and the resources available to those license holders.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries—$87,550
Project: To implement a targeted mail campaign that will be based on a solid foundation of research to recruit lapsed hunting license buyers from the year 2006–2009. Campaign messaging will be based on a communications research project from 2009 that was funded by NSSF.
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources—$30,000
Project: To motivate children and adults to get out of their homes and into a new training program to experience the heritage of hunting. Skilled staff and volunteers will take an inexperienced hunter, provide him or her with basic skills and then accompany the newcomer afield to harvest game. Participants will be surveyed during all stages of their experience, including post-hunt, to determine if they will continue hunting.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—$15,600
Project: To conduct the second Learn to Hunt training conference for mentors and to make area organizers aware of the importance of research, diversity, well-trained instructors, quality mentors and understanding the recruitment and retention process. The initiative will improve the state’s lagging hunter replacement ratio.
Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies—$40,000
Project: To conduct a complete evaluation of all Hunting Heritage Partnership-funded recruitment and retention projects since 2003, focusing on participation rates, license sales and the potential for replicating successful program in other states. The study should prove extremely valuable for all stakeholders involved with hunting across the country.
Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies—$45,000
Project: To conduct a Shooting Sports and Hunter Participation Workshop designed to increase awareness of what state fish and wildlife agencies and other organizations are doing to address recruitment and retention of hunters; identify new strategies and programs; draft a document that highlights each agency and organization’s recruitment and retention programs and strategies; and foster open communication among state agencies and organizations.
Wyoming Game & Fish Department—$35,000
Project: To promote hunting access by signing up private landowners to allow the public access to their lands; maximize the number of acres accessible to hunting; and to maximize the number of hunters using the access areas. In 2009, the program provided access to 3.2 million acres for hunting by thousands of residents. This year the program hopes to expand on that.
NSSF evaluated 25 proposals from 18 state agencies, giving the most promising its support. Learn more about NSSF’s Hunting Heritage Partnership at http://www.nssf.org/hhp/.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 5,500 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org