There are a plethora of single-day events hosted throughout the country that do an excellent job of giving kids a chance to try fishing, camping, hunting and target shooting. Exposure to the outdoors is an important part of the process. So is mentoring. While introducing a child to the outdoors can spark their curiosity, it takes long-term guidance from a caring adult to grow that interest.
That’s exactly what the program Pass It On Outdoor Mentors, Inc. provides. President and CEO Mike Christensen explained Pass It On got its start within Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) where he served as director of outdoor mentoring. In November of 2006, the program stepped out on its own with funding from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to launch pilot outdoor mentoring programs in Kansas, Texas and Pennsylvania. Since then, additional BBBS agencies and conservation partners across the nation have worked together to recruit mentors and host events to introduce at-risk youth to the outdoors.
I really like this program for two reasons — because it matches up young people with adult mentors for ongoing lessons in hunting, fishing, hiking and more. Plus, it brings together BBBS and the volunteer resources of Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Delta Waterfowl, National Wild Turkey Federation and more to focus on what we’ve all agreed is critical, recruiting the next generation of conservation stewards.
If you’d like to support the program or become a mentor, contact Mike at:
Another program worth looking into is Hunters Education For Troubled Youth (HEFTY). The program is based on the concept of “why hunting is good for bad kids.” This program is designed to break the cycle of unacceptable behavior, followed by punishment that can expose vulnerable kids to the “wrong crowd” and lifelong problems as a result.
The program provides a new environment for these kids and teaches them the principles of self respect, compassion, integrity and high moral values through mentoring and hunter education.
HEFTY was developed by Karl Milner, a Wyoming volunteer hunter education instructor who is devoted to improving wildlife habitat and giving back to his community. Milner found support for his thinking in Dr. Randall Eaton’s book “From Boys to Men of Heart: Hunting as Rite of Passage,” which explains how hunting has been and still is a rite of passage that helps boys realize the need to become productive members of society.
For more information about HEFTY or to become a supporter or mentor, contact Karl at:
Thanks to programs such as Pass It On and Hefty, I am encouraged about the future of hunting and today’s young people, who are growing up during complicated and confusing times. The next step for programs such as these is evaluation, so we can better assess what efforts are most effective.
What gives you hope for the future of hunting, fishing and target shooting? Let me know. Leave a comment here or find me at: