The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been in partnership with the First Hunt Foundation since its inception. The First Hunt Foundation started with a few Idaho mentors in 2015 and has now grown to over 1,100 mentors operating in 47 states.
Blake Henning, Chief Conservation Officer for RMEF says, “We have been impressed with FHF’s growth and solid results of keeping our hunting heritage alive. RMEF has watched FHF expand from one state to become one of the largest boots on the ground mentoring organizations in the nation. In 2022, FHF completed more than 11,860 days of hunt mentoring and trained 2,251 individuals, 57% of whom were females.”
First Hunt Foundation is unique for large non-profits as it has no paid employees. Thus, all the funds donated or raised go into implementing its many programs. FHF has four similar and often overlapping mentoring programs. Their initial program was centered around training more young hunters but soon found they needed to expand if they were to going to make a substantial difference for R3 delivery. FHF started its Connecting Heroes & Hunters (CH&H) program January 2021. It is designed to find veterans and first responders and train them to be hunters and/or mentors. There are currently 164 mentors signed up under that program. Soon after, FHF established its Share the HERitage (STH) program designed to recruit more girls and women into hunting. FHF currently has over 150 female mentors and getting more each week. The last program established was the Forgotten Rites program designed to recruit mentors and host events for under-served communities. It is just getting up and running.
First Hunt Foundation President Rick Brazell says, “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation took notice of us from the very start and understood our organization could provide the mentors to help save our hunting heritage which fits both organization’s mission. The scope and scale of FHF would not be what it is today without their support.”
First Hunt Foundation will soon be releasing one of the very first national on-line training courses specifically designed for outdoor mentoring. The course titled “The A,B,C’s of Outdoor Mentoring” was designed from national experts utilizing the latest research on mentoring and from multiple state level R3 practitioners. RMEF not only provided funding for the course but added curriculum. “These are the types of practical resources RMEF aids with through their funding.” Brazell says. The course should be finalized in the next month and made available at no cost to anyone interested in being a mentor/coach or supporting mentoring as a way to recruit the next generation of hunters.
“The Foundation is always looking for volunteers who can mentor new hunters and we especially need leaders as Chapter Presidents and State Directors to grow the program from the ground up. States with leaders are hosting amazing events across the nation and the synergy is contagious for those attending.” Brazell concluded.
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