Local MDC instructor wins national hunter education award

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Missouri is a great place to hunt, and a safe place to hunt because of exceptional hunter education (HED) instructors such as Scott Sarantakis. Sarantakis was recently recognized by a national organization for his outstanding service.

Sarantakis, a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) outdoor skills specialist, was presented with the International Hunter Education Association-USA's (IHEA-USA) 2015 Professional of the Year Award at the annual IHEA conference held May 21 in Des Moines, Iowa. The award is sponsored and judged by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Sarantakis serves St. Charles, Lincoln, and Warren counties. As an outdoor skills specialist, Sarantakis is responsible for the HED and bowhunter HED programs, youth clinics and hunts, as well as other outdoor skills programming in those counties.

According to MDC Outreach and Education District Supervisor Jake Hindman, Sarantakis has been involved with hunter education for the last 14 years.

"Scott Sarantakis has been a dedicated MDC employee and has continually demonstrated professionalism, particularly as a hunter education instructor and supervisor of the hunter education program in his area," Hindman said.

Some of the accomplishments that led to Sarantakis' nomination of the award include:

  • Under his supervision, 70 hunter education instructors in his three-county area certified 1,689 students in 65 public skills sessions. There were 33 in-school curriculum skills sessions offered at 10 area high schools that certified an additional 683 students, bringing the total students certified in Sarantakis' counties to 2,372
  • Functioning as lead instructor for seven skills sessions certifying 315 students
  • Assisting schools who teach hunter education as part of their in school curriculum with field trips to the August A. Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center. During these field trips, the students rotate between three stations consisting of .22 rifle, trap, and skeet shooting. There were 580 students from six schools that participated
  • Helping with the Discover Nature Girls Camp for girls 11-15 to become hunter-education certified
  • Assisting the Hunter Education Day Camp held at the August A. Busch Conservation Area


In addition, Sarantakis has served as a member of the MDC Hunter Education Working Group since 2012. The group was tasked with redesigning the Missouri HED program to make it more current to today's learning styles. Sarantakis worked to put together a new test that covered all 34 IHEA standards and traveled statewide conducting pilots of the new program with students.

Hindman also praised Sarantakis for "serving a vital role in creating a holistic approach to hunter recruitment and retention."

"After providing major contributions towards revamping the Hunter Education program, Scott continues to provide leadership and guidance on the direction and vision for Missouri hunter education," said Hindman, "

All hunters born on or after January 1, 1967, and who are 16 years of age or older, are required to take and pass a hunter education course or purchase an Apprentice Hunter Authorization before buying a permit. There is an 11-year old age minimum requirement to take the Missouri HED class.

The HED program can serve as a refresher for veteran hunters as well. It is also open to anyone who enjoys the outdoors and has an interest in conservation. More information about the program can be found on MDC's website at mdc.mo.gov/huntereducation, or call 573-751-4115.