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Be a mentor

Leave a legacy for the next generation

When a coworker approached me last year about becoming a certified hunter education instructor, I respectfully declined. I was content staying in the background - setting up tables, ordering dinner for the participants, occasionally chiming in if I had a question.

I was fine in my comfort zone, and my reasons were a mile long as to why I wasn't qualified to teach: I don't know enough. I need more hunting experience. I get nervous talking in front of people.

Thankfully, that coworker was persistent, and I finally agreed to begin my training as an instructor, teaching small segments of the class, all the while still gleaning from others who have been around the turkey woods a time or two.

During my first class as an instructor, I glanced at the many faces of the students – young and old, male and female. Each had a story as to what hunting means to them. Or they were in the process of discovering it. And I was there to help them. I was reminded how being a responsible hunter goes beyond adhering to a list of laws and safety rules. It's just as much about passing on the hunting tradition.

Each of us must do our part to share the joy of the outdoors with others to ensure we do not lose the precious privileges and freedoms that are central to us as hunters.

NWTF volunteers who help coordinate outreach events know what I mean. You invest your time in others to instill in them the fun of the outdoors and the importance of hunting in wildlife conservation. You are invested in our hunting heritage.

Here's another challenge for you: Think about the future of your volunteerism.

We often focus on passing along the big picture of hunting, conservation and outdoor recreation that we don't make time to pass along our knowledge. We fail to create other mentors.

There may come a day when as a volunteer you need a break, only to find there's no one to take your place. Far too many outreach programs and events have ended this way.

It goes beyond delegating tasks; it's creating someone who can take the reins.

We need to mentor new hunters and new volunteers as well. Both are essential to keeping our heritage alive.

I'm not sure what's next for me as a hunter education instructor, but I'm committed to giving it my all. I want to make a difference by not only volunteering my time, but also by keeping the chain of mentors ongoing and strong. — Teresa Carroll



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