SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Providing an abundance of opportunities to take hunter education in the southwest corner of the state and coordinating other conservation-related educational events have earned statewide recognition for three area hunter education instructors. Each year, MDC recognizes hunter education instructors whose efforts exceed regular teaching duties.
Brandon Weldy of Republic is the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) 2016 Hunter Education Volunteer Instructor of the Year, Larry Maggard of Springfield is the 2016 Bowhunter Instructor of the Year and Greg Cassell of Highlandville is the Staff Instructor of the Year.
Weldy is a physical education teacher at Republic Middle School and has been certified to teach hunter education since 2014. Since that time, Weldy has taught hunter education to more than 1,000 students. In addition to hunter education, Weldy holds instructor certification in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), Discover Nature Fishing and Student Air Rifle programs. In 2016, Weldy expanded his outdoor skills curriculum to include summer school. During this summer program, nearly 100 students had a chance to fish, shoot, camp, cook with Dutch ovens and practice survival skills. Also in 2016, Weldy gave a presentation on the benefits of teaching outdoor skills at the Shaping Teachers Across the Region (STAR) Summit, a group comprised of teachers and staff from a number of schools in southwest Missouri.
Maggard has served as a volunteer bowhunter-education instructor since 2001 and a hunter-education volunteer instructor since 2015. In 2016, Maggard taught a bowhunter education class and two hunter education classes. Maggard is a longtime archer, bow maker and primitive skills expert and is recognized as an authority on these topics.
Besides teaching hunter education, Cassell’s “day job” is being a resource forester for MDC. He coordinates MDC Forestry management in Taney and Stone counties and 18 MDC public use areas. He has been with MDC 20 years and has been a certified Hunter Education Instructor since 2005. In 2016, Cassell taught three hunter education classes, assisted with MDC’s Girls’ Camp event in the region and represented MDC at a number of other regional events.
Missouri’s hunter education program is administrated by MDC and taught statewide by more than 1,400 instructors. With the exception of exemptions listed in the Wildlife Code of Missouri, all hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, must complete an approved hunter-education program to buy a firearms hunting permit. For more information, visit MDC online at https://mdc.mo.gov/huntereducation.