MDC Conservation Educator Dennis Cooke earns recognition for Hunter Education efforts

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

St. LOUIS, Mo.—Missouri’s Hunter Education program (HED) is administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).  Certification through the program is required for all hunters born on or after January 1, 1967, and who are 16 years of age or older.  The success of the program is in large part due to the dedication and efforts of both staff and volunteer HED instructors. HED is taught throughout Missouri by nearly 1,000 instructors.

Each year, the Missouri Hunter Education Instructor’s Association (MHEIA) recognizes one outstanding HED instructor in each of MDC’s eight statewide regions.  The 2021 award for the St. Louis Region was presented to MDC Conservation Educator Dennis Cooke.  The MDC St. Louis region consists of both St. Louis City and County, along with St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, Franklin, Crawford, Washington, and Jefferson Counties. 

Dennis Boerger, MHEIA regional director for the St. Louis region, nominated Cooke for the honor.  Boerger, who has worked with Cooke for over a decade, cited his patience, dependability, and dedication as reasons why Cooke earned the recognition.

“Dennis is very personable, very knowledgeable and great with the kids,” said Boerger.  “He’s the kind of instructor I really like to work with.”

Boerger said that Cooke often goes above and beyond.  He has always been willing to fill in to teach a class whenever a HED instructor has been sick or had a last-minute conflict—even on weekends.  “He’s just always there,” emphasized Boerger.

The award was presented to Cooke in March.  Cooke’s selection was voted on by the MHEIA regional directors from each of MDC’s eight statewide regions.  

As MDC Conservation Educator, Cooke serves St. Louis City and County.

Missouri’s HED is a two-part program; passing both parts is required for certification.  The knowledge portion can be completed by taking an online/mobile course, using a self-study guide available at MDC offices, or in a traditional in-person classroom setting.  The hands-on skills session enables students to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts taught in the knowledge portion.

HED helps make Missouri a safer place to hunt.  Hunter education has reduced hunting accidents and deaths by more than 70 percent since it became mandatory in 1987.