Badgley, Wilkinson receive MDC hunter education honors

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A strong commitment to preparing hunting enthusiasts for the outdoors and ongoing involvement in other conservation education efforts have earned statewide recognition for two Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) staff members. Kevin Badgley of Joplin is MDC's 2014 Staff Hunter Education Instructor of the Year and Jerid Wilkinson of Neosho is Conservation Agent Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

Missouri's Hunter Education program is administrated by MDC and taught statewide by more than 1,200 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. Each year, MDC recognizes hunter education instructors whose efforts exceed regular teaching duties.

As MDC's interpretive center manager, Badgley oversees operations of the MDC office in the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center in Joplin. Part of those duties includes coordinating all hunter education functions at the facility. In 2014, he taught 16 hunter education skills sessions and certified 444 students. Badgley also coordinates a variety of MDC Discover Nature programs at the Wildcat Glade Center, works closely with area communities to improve conservation efforts and programs in their areas and organizes stream clean-up efforts in the area. He also works with local media to promote conservation, including a bi-weekly segment on Joplin station KSNF.

Wilkinson, who's MDC's conservation agent for Newton County, assisted with 11 hunter education skills sessions and four classroom sessions. He helped certify 289 students. In addition to his conservation agent enforcement duties, Wilkinson also made time in 2014 to take part in area school programs on firearms safety, wildlife management, career days, wildlife, gigging and how to prepare wild game for the dinner table. He also assisted with Wounded Warrior events in Jasper and Newton Counties and attended a hunting incident investigation academy.