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DES MOINES - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is partnering with Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors to expand the Shooting Sports Outreach pilot program begun in 2020.
Last year, Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, with support from the Iowa DNR, organized 17 hunts in Iowa, engaging 72 high school and college athletes participating in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP), in spite of COVID and without having a coordinator on-the-ground. This year, Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors will be staffing a program coordinator position who will organize and plan hunting opportunities for SCTP student athletes across Iowa.
Modeled after the rapidly growing Kansas Shooting Sports Outreach Program, Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors expects to see the program in Iowa grow as fast or faster than the program in Kansas. The Kansas program grew from a pilot effort of eight hunts in 2018 to 89 hunts in 2019 and 189 hunts in 2020.
“We’re excited to see some of our shooting sports student athletes introduced to hunting. We are certain that this partnership will result in new lifelong hunters and conservationists,” said Jamie Cook, hunter education coordinator for the Iowa DNR.
In Iowa, about 4,000 student athletes participate in SCTP. This partnership will focus on giving these student athletes opportunities to hunt that they might not otherwise experience.
“Last year, our pilot program was very successful and I am extremely excited about our partnership with the Iowa DNR,” said Brittany French, Pass It On director of field operations. “Because of this partnership, thousands of youth hunters and volunteer mentors will take the field this hunting season and bridge the gap between target shooting and hunting.
“Our goals with this effort are to recruit new hunters by giving those who don’t currently hunt opportunities to pursue upland game, waterfowl, turkey and deer; retain current hunters by giving those youth trap shooters and their parents who are currently hunters the opportunity to engage in more hunting activities; and to reactivate parents and coaches who want to participate in these hunting activities. This model can be applied to numerous different cohorts in hopes to inspire others to have a passion for hunting and fishing,” French said.
To accomplish this, Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors and the Iowa DNR plan to partner with local conservation and nongovernmental organization and private landowners to provide access and volunteers and mentors who assist with the events. Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors has surveyed a cross-section of the high school SCTP participants to measure their current hunting avidity. Pre- and post-hunt surveys and follow-up surveys with be used to measure the impact of the program and to provide the data needed to adjust and improve the program going forward.