While many non-profit organizations have struggled during the last several years, the Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation (MHHF) has seen triple digit growth. At their annual meeting, held January 30 at Bass Pro Shop in Independence, MO, MHHF Executive Director, Allan Hoover detailed the organization’s three year growth and outlined plans for expansion over the next several years.
“From 2008 through 2010 our membership has nearly tripled in size,” says MHHF President, Lee Vogel. “For a start-up organization in this economy that’s pretty incredible.”
Projections for 2011 estimate the organization will grow by an additional 50%. This would bring the total membership to 65. Through January, membership has already exceeded estimates and if the trend continues the 2011 year-end membership total could exceed 100.
Vogel attributes the rapid expansion to a growing interest in conserving Missouri’s hunting heritage and protecting the environment.
“Missouri leads the nation in hunter recruitment,” says Vogel. “We’re the only state that gains more hunters annually than we lose. Some of this is because of grassroots efforts like those of the MHHF.”
Expansion plans also include the addition of three youth hunter education clinics bringing the total offered by the MHHF to 11. Provided during special youth hunting seasons, the MHHF introduces young people and their families to the outdoor way of life that features hunting and the shooting sports. Clinic participants enjoy a fun outdoor activity while learning the value of continuing conservation efforts, becoming familiar with hunter safety and the hunting experience and reconnecting as a family through outdoor activities. New clinics are scheduled for Bates County, March 4-6, and in Cass and Clay Counties, April 8-10.
To facilitate future growth opportunities, the MHHF developed a new county chapter format that is designed to accommodate expansion of the clinic model into new areas of the state. The new format will eventually divide chapters into regions which allows for greater interaction between neighboring counties and better coordination of MHHF resources across the state.
“Our focus is long-term. The future starts right now. In order for Missouri to continue to have a viable conservation and hunting program, we need to engage our current hunting population and encourage them to share their heritage with our youth,” says MHHF Board Director, David Rush.
As the MHHF continues to grow, it will take an active role in supporting the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) annual conference which will be in Kansas City – June, 2012. The event is being hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The annual meeting of members concluded with 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist trap shooter, Corey Cogdell, sharing her inspirational story of growing up in Alaska and becoming the only female member of Team USA’s 2008 Olympic trapshooting team.