David Rush, one of the founding board members of the Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation (MHHF) was recently recognized by the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) as the Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.
This award is given to an individual for the most outstanding effort in hunter education in the State of Missouri during the past twelve months. At its annual convention in the Lake of the Ozarks, CFM presented David with the award to acknowledge his innovative means of teaching Missouri youth the hunter safety/hunter ethics message and for the significant voluntary contributions he’s made to hunter education instruction.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for my contributions,” says David. “Being a hunter education instructor provides me the opportunity to connect with today’s youth and have a meaningful impact on the future of outdoor sports in Missouri.”
David, who learned from his father how to handle firearms and safely hunt everything from small game to upland birds and waterfowl to whitetail deer, joined Missouri’s volunteer hunter education instructor corps in 1998.
“When I’d go out with my Dad, it wasn’t just about the hunt,” says David. “It was about the experience. More than anything, hunting provided us the opportunity to use nature as a way to connect with each other. As an instructor, I want to help pass along those hunting traditions.”
David uses his life-long involvement in hunting and passion for working with youth as a way to connect with his students. The lessons he teaches are important so David doesn’t want his students to miss any part of the message. To keep students alert in class as the day grows long and attention spans shorten, he routinely rewards students for correct answers by producing candy bars from his vest pockets and tossing them across the room. By making learning fun and exciting, students readily embrace David’s training.
In addition to his efforts as a volunteer hunter education instructor, David contributes to 4-H programs at the local, state, and national levels. He is credited with being the driving force behind transforming a local Firearms Safety group consisting of two students in 1996 into a county-wide Shooting Skills Program of more than 100 students today. David has 4-H certifications in Rifle and in Hunting Skills disciplines, and conducted two national Hunting Skills competitions in 2004 and 2005. His national 4-H Level 2 training and experience qualify David to serve as a trainer for new instructors and as a consultant in developing teams for national competitions.
In 2007 David was instrumental in founding the Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation, a grass roots organization that utilizes hunter education as an instrument in introducing youth to an outdoor way of life featuring hunting and the shooting sports. He is a member of the MHHF Board of Directors.