The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) and American Woodcock Society (AWS) were awarded grants totaling $22,189.84 for new hunter recruitment and retention programs thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) Angler and Hunter Recruitment and Retention grants program. The funds received provide a significant foundation for the beginning of RGS and AWS efforts in the state of Minnesota.
The RGS and AWS New Hunter Mentor Program, coordinated by Director of Member Relations and Outreach Mark Fouts, received $15,309 while the Women’s Intro to Wingshooting program, coordinated by Regional Biologist Meadow Kouffeld-Hansen, received $6,880.84. These programs are designed to educate, influence and mentor all new hunters including youth, women, young adults, older adults and veterans.
RGS and AWS understand the growing concern for the future of the hunting and fishing traditions in North America. The decline in numbers of sportsmen and women is a red flag for many reasons including the future of funding natural resource agencies at the state and federal levels. In an effort to enhance recruitment and retention efforts, the MN DNR has offered the Angler and Hunter Recruitment and Retention grants to organizations that are developing programs that target new anglers and hunters.
The MN DNR grants will be distributed in 2016 over three rounds with separate application periods. A total of $195,000 was available during the first round, and the MN DNR received 35 eligible grant applications for a total ask of over $440,000. The MN DNR recently announced 12 round one grants ranging in size from $5,000 to 50,000, including the two RGS and AWS grants, and required a 1:1 match (financial, material or in kind).
RGS and AWS staff will be submitting applications for additional funding through subsequent rounds with high hopes to continue to expand hunter recruitment and retention efforts in Minnesota. One of the key elements of these programs is volunteer mentors at the chapter level. If you have an interest in becoming a volunteer mentor or getting more involved in RGS and AWS efforts, please contact Mark Fouts at MarkF@RuffedGrouseSociety.org or (715) 399-2270.