I recently learned that a good friend of mine, Jim Rich, a chief instructor for the Arizona Hunter Education program, has been selected by the Arizona Game & Fish Commission as the recipient of the Buck Appleby Hunter Education Instructor of the Year award.
I am proud to say that I nominated Rich, who is 53 and lives in Mohave Valley, for this award.
Rich has been a chief instructor for the hunter education program for several years, and has been in the program since 2005.
When I was the master instructor for the Kingman hunter education team, Jim was literally my right hand man. He stepped up and assisted in putting together what I believe is still one of the top teams of instructors in Arizona.
And how he finds the time to do all that he does not only for hunter education, but being a successful business owner, a volunteer baseball coach for River Valley High School, an ordained pastor in a church he co-founded -Desert Bloom Community Chapel in Bullhead City - and a loving husband, father and grandfather is beyond me.
And the man is a sportsman and conservationist. His passion is waterfowl hunting, and he spends many mornings in a duck blind at the Topock Marsh.
He is an avid big game hunter and right now is on his archery elk hunt in Unit 6A.
But his passion and drive as a chief instructor was what prompted me to nominate Jim for this prestigious award.
Jim took over the Kingman team a few years ago when I decided to step down as the master instructor for this region. I just wanted to teach - a passion I have - and not worry so much about the administrative part of that position.
But for Jim that meant many, many 60 mile one-way trips to teach our local youth and adults on how to be a safe, ethical, lawful and environmentally conscious sportsman.
Remember that a hunter education instructor is an unpaid volunteer and receives no reimbursement for expenses associated with teaching classes no matter how far they drive or how many hours they put in.
Rich does it because he believes in what we are doing and he is passionate in his love for Arizona's most valuable natural resource - our wildlife.
Rich was one of those conservationists who could always be found at the Boquillas Ranch clean-ups, Fishing For Smiles events, and most recently was part of the group that organized a Game & Fish-sponsored waterfowl experience for youth at Topock.
Rich is highly respected by members of the hunter education program and is an absolutely awesome instructor.
In the past, many of our kids and adults in our classes have commented to me how much they enjoyed the way Rich teaches.
Rich will get this recognition, which he deserves, at a special event in January in Phoenix.
If you would like to congratulate Jim on this award, and thank him for all he does for the youth in Mohave County, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org