When you have a good game plan, you swing for the fences. Take the Arkansas Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC), for example. Described by some as one of Arkansas’s best kept secrets in youth shooting programs, YHEC seeks to get more youth involved in a safe, responsible way.
Specifically, boys and girls age 10-18 learn how to properly handle rifles, muzzleloaders and shotguns as well as archery equipment. Along the way, they also develop outdoor skills such as how to hunt, wildlife identification, first aid, survival and how to use a compass and safely and successfully take part in other outdoor activities.
Once a year, Arkansas hosts a state championship where youth come together to see how their skills stack up against their peers. In 2019, the NRA changed things up a little by trading in its national final for East and West regional championships, and Arkansas hosted the West Regional. The three-day outing featured eight different events including shooting, orienteering and even a written test highlighting hunter safety, regulations and ethics.
“It was very successful,” Gary Jobe, event coordinator, told the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “The best I can relate this to is, in a baseball game we hit a home run and the bases were loaded. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to support YHEC and has done so each year dating back to 2005. If you do the math, that amounts to $44,112 in funding for youth to learn more about shooting, the outdoors and conservation.
But where did that funding come from? Plain and simple, RMEF volunteers in Arkansas generated it by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events in a state home to more than 2,200 members and five chapters.
“RMEF’s volunteer base in Arkansas may not be as large in numbers compared to some other states, but our volunteers here are strong in spirit and they are strong in know-how. The bottom line is they are doers!” said Cole Townsend, RMEF regional director. “As an organization, RMEF puts funding raised by our Arkansas volunteers back on the ground in the Natural State to benefit elk country and to help with hunting and outreach programs like YHEC.”
Since 1992, RMEF and its partners completed 104 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Arkansas with a combined value of more than $5.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced514 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 514 acres.
Now that’s a home run!
What are some of the highlights of volunteering in your state? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].