She Shoots 2: Michelle Cerino describes why and how she became a Hunter Education instructor.
Believe it or not, back in the day, I only shot a gun when it meant aiming at pop cans with my .22. My hunting knowledge consisted of listening to my husband’s stories from deer camp. Lame, I know. This all changed, however, when my youngest son wanted to start deer hunting. Hunter or not, I’d have to accompany him during Ohio’s youth shotgun season, and I had a lot to learn before doing so.
During this time, my husband decided, or as he said, “Was convinced,” that he should be a Hunter’s Education Instructor for the state of Ohio. Perfect. Realizing that paperwork and planning are always a part of instructing, I decided to attend the training, too. With my husband’s hunting and firearms background, and my teaching experience, we would make a great team.
How I became a volunteer Hunter Education Instructor
To start the process of becoming a Hunter Education Instructor, I submitted my registration application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNR). This gave the ODNR permission to run my complete criminal background check, something they do for all of the instructor applicants before we could attend the training. After confirmation of the background check, I then attended a 2-day Hunter/Trapper Education Instructor Academy. These sessions are offered 5 times a year, and are located in a different district in the state of Ohio, each time.
My nerves hit as soon as I walked into the classroom. It seemed like everyone else had more knowledge of firearms and hunting than I did. The class contained all men, except for my friend Barb, who is a member of the training cadre.
Each trainee received a 4-inch thick, 3-ring binder, containing everything needed to learn how to teach a successful Hunter’s Education course. This excited me. Learning is one of my favorite pastimes.
The ODNR broke the 2-day course into 9 lessons. Not only did we learn “what to teach,” but also, we learned “how to teach.” This included things like introducing a speaker, teaching with enthusiasm and using a variety of training approaches, like hands-on and role-playing. During day 1, we also learned, through example, how to teach different sections of the student workbook, using the many resources the ODNR provided. Members of the training cadre showed us some of the aids they use in their courses.
The first day ended with the trainees breaking into groups. Each group would teach a section of the workbook during the following day’s class. We were instructed to apply the teaching techniques we were learning and use the tools the ODNR supplied.
On the second day, all of the groups taught the assigned lessons, and received cadre and peer reviews. Each trainee learned how to fill out all of the paperwork online and submit course final reports. The weekend ended with everyone taking the Hunter Education Instructor test. Happily, I passed with flying colors!
My time as an instructor
During the 6 years I taught Hunters Education, I met many eager students, both young and old. An adult must accompany anyone under the age of 10, so many moms, dads and grandfathers took the class along with my younger students. Seeing the positive influence this program has on future generations of hunters is probably the greatest reward. Not only did the students learn how to hunt, but also the curriculum includes safety, responsibilities and conservation.
Although it is many years later, and I am no longer a Hunter’s Ed instructor, what started as me getting training just to help my husband and boys, became a new passion for me. A few years after becoming an instructor, I became a member of the Instructor Trainer Cadre. Throughout my years of training new instructors, I noticed an increase in women attending. Also, because of the confidence I gained teaching others, I can now be found in the woods, hunting on my own. Oh, and did I mention I was with my son when he harvested his first deer?
Visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife for more information on becoming a Hunter Education instructor.
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