MDC selects top St. Louis area hunter education instructors

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

ST. LOUIS, Mo.— Missouri is a great place to hunt and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Hunter Education Program (HED) helps make it a safe one, too. The success of the program is in large part due to the dedication and efforts of the HED instructors, including those recently announced as St. Louis Regional HED Instructors of the Year.

HED is taught throughout Missouri by more than 1,400 instructors. Each year, local MDC staff recognizes instructors whose efforts have exceeded their regular teaching duties during the previous year. These instructors receive Regional Hunter Education of the Year awards in categories including conservation agent, MDC staff, and MDC volunteer instructors of the year.  The following are the HED Instructor of the Year Award winners for 2016.

HED MDC Volunteer Instructor of the Year

Jim Worth of Fenton has been selected as 2016’s HED MDC Volunteer Instructor of the Year for the St. Louis Region. 

In 2016, Worth helped teach 19 HED Skills Sessions and was the chief instructor for four of them.  His efforts helped train 583 students throughout the year, during which he devoted 118 classroom hours to the program.

“James Worth is a very dedicated Instructor and gives so much of himself to the community volunteering to teach HED courses,” said MDC Outdoor Skills Specialist Conrad Mallady.  Mallady nominated Worth for the honor, noting that while he primarily teaches in Jefferson County, in 2016 he also traveled out of his area to help with a class in Franklin County.

Worth was originally certified as a HED Instructor in 1988 and served until the early 1990's, when he took a hiatus to attend to family obligations. He was then re-certified as a Missouri HED Instructor in 2011 and has served since that time.  Worth worked for the Clayton Fire Department for 33 years, from which he retired as a Battalion Chief.

“With his supreme level of dedication, Jim would even make an excellent candidate for the State Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor of the Year,” Mallady said.

St. Louis Regional HED Conservation Agent Instructor of the Year

Crawford County Conservation Agent Patrice Reese of Davisville has been awarded the distinction of 2016 Conservation Agent Hunter Education Instructor of the Year for the St. Louis Region. 

During 2016, Agent Reese helped teach eight HED skills sessions.  Reese trained 236 students in HED classes during the 38 hours of classroom time she contributed to HED.  

In addition to assisting in her assigned county of Crawford, Agent Reese lent her efforts in other counties as well, including Montgomery, Washington, Franklin and Lincoln. 

“Agent Reese goes out of her way to help other instructors regardless of county or regional boundary lines,” said MDC Outdoor Skills Specialist Conrad Mallady.

HED classes Agent Reese assisted with included two Discover Nature Girls Camps, one in Montgomery County with 48 campers and one in Lincoln County hosting 54 campers.  Agent Reese helped set up for the events and also participated in teaching the safety trail, obstacle crossing, and safe gun carries.

Agent Reese has been a certified Hunter Education Instructor since 2012.  She started her career as a conservation agent in 2012 and has served in three counties, including Miller, Monroe and Crawford.  

“Conservation Agent Patrice Reese has been a wonderful addition to the St. Louis Region's Hunter Education program,” Mallady said.  

St. Louis Regional HED MDC Staff Instructor of the Year

Dick Turner of Mehlville has been named 2016 HED MDC Staff Instructor of the Year for the St. Louis Region. Turner recently retired from MDC in 2016 as an education consultant after 19 years with the agency. 

Turner taught four HED Skills Sessions in 2016, during which he helped certify 142 students. 

“Known by many as an excellent educator, students in Dick's hunter education skills sessions experienced a rare treat of passion, knowledge, and educational talent,” said MDC Outdoor Skills Specialist Dennis Cooke.

Turner’s involvement with HED began in 2013 when one of the lead instructors expanded courses at Powder Valley Nature Center and was seeking additional Hunter Education instructors.  According to Cooke, Turner was quick to offer up his time and talent to help.

In related support for hunter education, Turner has also functioned as assistant facilitator for the St. Louis Region Discover Nature Teacher’s Workshop, which includes shotgun shooting, archery and fishing.

“Dick has been an integral part of the Hunter Education Program put on by staff and volunteers at the Powder Valley Nature Center for the past several years as an employee,” Cook noted.

“Despite his retirement, Dick desires to continue teaching Hunter Education as a volunteer,” he added.

Each HED Instructor winner in the St. Louis region will also be considered for the Missouri State HED Instructor of the Year awards in their respective categories.

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, or by calling (636) 441-4554.