The Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF) received $41,300 through the province's Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund (FWEF) to update their Hunter Education 

The MWF administers the Hunter Education Program for the Province of Manitoba and puts just over 4,000 students through the program each year. Managing Director Carly Deacon says the funding will be allocated to three specific areas: updating their software, modernizing their in-person Hunter Education Program instruction, and expanding their mentored hunt program.

The current database for the Hunter Education Program holds just over 200,000 graduates in the system and is in need of an upgrade, making it difficult to extract the data needed to extend the reach of the program through regular communication.

"We've had many students go through the program over the last many years," says Deacon. "And one of the strongest tools to connect with these students is what we call our Hunter Education database. Our database records all of our graduates, and it is a means for the MWF to reconnect with these graduates going forward, and those who are interested in hunting, especially providing opportunities for them to learn additional hunting skills."

Deacon says some of the FWEF funds will go towards purchasing new software that's going to open those communication bottlenecks. 

"And this will give us the ability to reach out to these students and connect them with everything from hunting programs, but also connect them with local clubs and ways to engage them into the hunting community and give them just a few more tools to become independent and successful hunters."

Individuals who want to acquire their Hunter Education certificate can do so either in an in-person, 8-hour, in-class setting with an instructor, or they can do it themselves online through the MWF website link.  

Deacon says right now they have teaching tools with both programs but would like to modernize and have them correspond to each teaching method better.

"So, we want to integrate some of the online tools that we have into the in-person classroom setting," she explains. "And those are amazing. The online course has really cool graphics and videos and things that would be very beneficial to the in-class component. So, we'd like to modernize our in-class component and then we're going to reprint the student manual to correspond with everything consistent to each other."

Deacon adds they have a number of programs currently with mentored hunts and some of the funding will go towards continuing what is already being administered. 

"I think we have about 9 mentored hunts in the province, and we provide them with ammunition, insurance and resources," she says. "So, we'd like to grow that. We'd like to have our affiliate clubs become certified instructors in hunter education, but also help them potentially administrate some in-person training programs like mentored hunts, or shooting range days, where they can get more of a hands-on practical learning experience with firearms."

She adds what MWF is really passionate about is ensuring that individuals have practical foundation through the Hunter Education Program and have all the necessary information in order to be a safe firearms owner and a safe hunter. 

"But then we'd really like to see all the opportunities that we're doing for the in-person side of things grow in the province so that folks can get out with instructors and experts and learn first-hand from them on proper firearms handling and safety, and some cool hunting techniques and tips, to make them more successful and ensure their safety."