Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors Adds Director of Field Operations for New Outreach Program for School Clay Shooting Teams

Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, the nonprofit organization serving youth in the outdoors since 2002, has launched a new Outreach Program to engage and inspire state high school trapshooting teams to hunt and fish in Kansas.

Wichita, KS, June 19, 2019. Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors (PIO) is activating a new initiative that links state high school clay shooting programs with opportunities to hunt with skilled mentor-volunteers.  The organization is building on their expertise in mentoring with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and expanding their offerings to state high school clay shooting teams, helping bridge the gap between shooting skills and hunting skills and contribute to the goals of the National R3 (recruitment/retention/reactivation) effort.

This month PIO brought on Brittany Waldman to coordinate this effort as the Director of Field Operations.  An experienced outdoor mentor with PIO, Brittany has worked within a professional educational setting assisting children with learning challenges and has a master’s degree in sociology.

While continuing to grow their existing outdoor mentoring program, PIO is actively reaching out to coaches, parents and hunting conservation organization volunteers to build safe mentored hunting opportunities. Hunting organization chapters are equipped with experienced hunters and anglers ready to pass their wisdom and expertise on to the next generation. Groups such as Pheasant’s Forever have successfully partnered with PIO to get first time hunters in the field. Local Chapter President, Joshua May shared that “The Ringneck Rustlers is excited for the future direction of Pass it On – Outdoors Mentors and more importantly help with the future of hunting through the youth in our area. This has been an excellent partnership and we look forward to continuing that tradition with Brittany on upcoming adventures.”

An early supporter of the effort is Andover High School trapshooting coach Randy Randall who emphasized the importance of providing his athletes opportunities to get outdoors. “We have had first hunts where kids shot clay targets and received instruction on field hunting and then the kids were taken to the bird field where they were successful. The key is that young adult must have a soulmate that is also hunter.  With two or more them, they will feed off each other. That soulmate can be a friend, parent, brother, sister, grandparent and yes maybe a shooting coach.”

Victor Mercado of Maize High School teaches the Outdoor Adventure class and coaches the trap team. “Pass It On has taken the initiative to get the kids outdoors.  All it takes is for kids to get an opportunity to go hunting and that will spark enough interest to get started. All it takes is one time for students to get out in the field and they will be hooked.”

In Kansas, the State High School Clay Target League is growing at a great pace. Having started just 4 years ago, there are 74 high school teams and over 1,800+ students participating this spring. In addition, 4-H Shooting Sports in Kansas has over 5,300 participants. Until now there has been no coordinated, focused, intentional effort to encourage this population to go hunting. This effort will address the issue of getting these students in the field to hunt.

The program has strong support from the outdoor community, including Hodgdon Powder,  Kansas Filtration, Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic, Kansas State Rifle Association, Ringneck Rustlers Chapter of Pheasants Forever, Scent Crusher, Tristar Sporting Arms, and Walton’s, Inc. They have all stepped up to provide the initial funding to make it possible to get this new initiative off the ground. Leadership from these organizations is critical to the future of hunting and fishing.

Pass It On empowers and educates youth to hunt and fish, but more importantly to embrace the outdoors.  “Hunting and fishing is the cornerstone of conservation in America and Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors is doing the hard work to get kids to connect with this lifestyle”, Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors Chairman Ryan Bronson said.  “This newest innovation is filling a niche that clearly needs to be filled.”

Our goals with this new effort are to 1) recruit new hunters by giving those who don’t currently hunt opportunities to hunt upland game, waterfowl, turkey and deer; 2) retain current hunters by giving those youth trap shooters and their parents who currently are hunters the opportunity to engage in more hunting activities; and 3) to reactivate parents who want to participate with their children in these hunting activities.

For more information contact Mike Christensen at 316. 253.7221 or mchristensen@outdoormentors.org. Brittany Waldman can be reached at bwaldman@outdoormentors.org