ESTES PARK, Colo. – Hunter education volunteers and professionals from Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Peru and the United States are convening for the International Hunter Education Association’s (IHEA) annual conference at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., June 3-5.
“The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Today’s Youth IS Tomorrow’s Legacy,'” said Wayne East, executive director of IHEA. “We’ll be focusing on how to effectively teach hunter safety and how to involve more people in the safe sport of hunting.”
The conference will feature several expert speakers including Grant Gregory, chairman of Remington Outdoor Foundation, who will share several new hunter education partnership initiatives. The keynote address will be delivered by Emilyn Sheffield, who chairs the Department of Recreation Administration at California State University Chico. Sheffield will provide an overview of the needs and characteristics of the different generations and how it applies to hunter recruitment and retention.
Conference seminars and speakers will cover a variety of topics including treestand safety, effective hands-on teaching through skills trails, safety and ethics in the media, new online instructor training, new training aids and outdoor survival.
Hunting is a safe activity and getting safer, thanks to the more than 70,000 hunters who volunteer to teach hunter safety, East said. In 2009 there were 265 hunting-related incidents reported to the IHEA. According to the most recent National Survey of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, there are 12. 5 million hunters aged 16 and older, meaning the incident rate for hunting is .002 percent. Of the 265 reported incidents, only 30 were fatal, placing the chance of being killed in 2009 due to a hunting-related incident at .00024 percent.
“In 2009, there were only four hunting-related incidents in Colorado and none were fatal,” East said. “Hunting is not only a popular activity here in Colorado as we are a destination big game State, it is also very safe.”
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is hosting the conference this year, which marks the first time Colorado has hosted this international conference. Other conference sponsors include Remington Outdoor Foundation, National Rifle Association, Winchester Ammunition and Hunter Safety System.
Next year’s IHEA conference will be in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., June 2-4, 2011.
Founded in 1972, the IHEA has 69 member agencies including every U.S. State, every Canadian Province/Territory, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, South Africa and New Zealand. There are an estimated 70,000 volunteer instructors teaching hunter education to 650,000 students each year, making hunter education one of the best success stories of volunteerism in North America. The IHEA is based in Federal Heights, Colo. For more information, visit www.ihea.com.