Iowa >> Rick Cerwick was named Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor of the Year at the International Hunter Education Association-USA annual conference this May. The award recognizes volunteers who have "made significant contributions to hunter education and significantly advanced the cause of safe hunting through extraordinary service in training or education."
Cerwick teaches hunter education classes at the Izaak Walton League’s Des Moines Chapter. Through these classes, Cerwick has certified more than 5,000 hunter education students — and counting!
"Rick goes out of his way each and every day for hunter education and hunting in Iowa," says Meghan Wisecup, Hunter Education Administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "He is always bringing to the table new ideas for outreach and ways to get the community involved in outdoor recreation and conservation." Wisecup and colleague Rachel Ladd nominated Cerwick for the award.
Cerwick says he teaches hunter education because he grew up with it. "This is the base I was given by one of the best instructors I know: my father." Now he is sharing hunting basics and outdoor ethics with new hunters to ensure they stay safe afield. "You go hunting with family and friends — people you love. You owe it to them to be your safest, to share the hunt and camaraderie and come home safely. That’s my idea of a successful hunt."
Successful hunter education, he insists, is about more than one person. This award is for "the many hunting instructors who came before me, mentored me, work with me today, and will come after me," Cerwick says. He specifically called out fellow volunteer instructors Tom Holm, Charlie Freeman, Lisa McIntyre, and John Zoutte. "They all have the same passion for the outdoors and give freely of their time and talents. These are the real heroes!"
What keeps Cerwick volunteering? "Support from the Iowa DNR and Des Moines Chapter members have kept me passionate about hunter safety for the last 22 years," he says. "A lot has changed over the years: instructors, schedules, electronic teaching aids, rules and regulations. One thing that has not changed is my love of the outdoors. This is just what I do. The peers I volunteer with saw someone they wanted to recognize, and for that I will be forever humbled."