News Releases

FWC recognizes hunters for outstanding efforts

News Release

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Media contact: Bill Cline, 850-413-0084

(Back to Commission meeting news)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recognized two individuals at its meeting in Lake Mary Thursday for their contributions to hunter safety and youth hunting.

Roger Mitchell of Plant City received the 2009 Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year award. The annual award recognizes the volunteer who significantly advances the cause of safe hunting through extraordinary service in training and education. Varley Grantham of Orlando earned the 2009 Landowner of the Year Award for the FWC's youth hunting program - a program aimed at providing quality hunting experiences for 12- to 17-year-olds to increase the number of youths involved in the tradition of hunting.

Since 2007, Mitchell has volunteered to teach the state's hunter safety course, required of anyone born after May 31, 1975, wishing to obtain a Florida hunting license.  Mitchell acts as hunter safety area coordinator for Polk County as well as Hardee and his home county of Hillsborough.  During 2009, he taught 24 hunter safety classes, serving as chief instructor for 19, and certifying 950 students.

Some of the qualities that make Mitchell an asset to the program are his excellent communication skills, his application of "team teaching," his excellent suggestions on improving the teaching and presentation of hunter safety and his willingness to go the extra mile.  Team teaching is an instructional technique that helps deliver information to students and causes less teacher fatigue.

Mitchell also volunteered at the hunter safety booth at the 2009 Florida State Fair in Tampa as well as at two outdoors shows in Hillsborough and Sarasota counties.  He promotes hunter safety within 4-H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA), and last year, he led a team of instructors during an FFA summer shooting sports camp, where 300 youths were introduced to safe handling and shooting of rifles, shotguns, handguns and bows.

Mitchell, retired from the United States Navy, also taught the course in Alabama for 12 years before becoming a volunteer in Florida's Hunter Safety Program for the past three years.

Mitchell will represent Florida as a contender in the national Federal Ammunition Hunter Education Instructor of the Year competition.

Anyone interested in learning how to become a volunteer hunter safety instructor can find out more at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Grantham has allowed the FWC to run a youth hunt for deer, wild hogs and coyotes on his property every year since the inception of Florida's program in 2006.  In 2008, he donated two youth hunts on his 600-acre working cattle ranch in Osceola County.

His ranch, Triple S Cattle Co., has a bunkhouse on the property, which he allows the kids and adult hunting mentors to use during the weekend hunts.  Over the past five years, 30 youths have come to the ranch and experienced hunting for the first time, and 25 of them succeeded in harvesting an animal.

"Varley's got such a great place out there - there's just deer running around all over the place," said volunteer hunt master Bishop Wright.  "And Varley spends so much of his money making sure every kid that comes out there hunts out of a state-of-the-art tower stand, overlooking lush-green food plots and year-round corn and mineral feeders.  His place really makes for the perfect setting for a kid to experience a truly quality hunt."

"He's just such a great guy too," FWC hunter safety program coordinator Bill Cline said.  "He really does so much for this program and in giving back to the sport he loves by inspiring tomorrow's hunters and helping promote the hunting tradition."

To find out how you can become a volunteer landowner or to learn more about the Youth Hunting Program of Florida, go to MyFWC.com/YHPF.



FWC Facts:
While bears may defend a food resource, bears generally are not territorial, meaning they do not defend boundaries of a specific area from intrusion by other bears.

Learn More at AskFWC