Richard Woodbury of Hart, Mich., has been named the 2012 Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor of the Year by the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR Director Keith Creagh presented Woodbury with a commemorative plaque in recognition of the award at Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the December Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

Woodbury, who started teaching hunter safety in 1997, serves along with his wife, Melissa, as coordinator of Oceana County’s hunter education efforts. The pair not only conducts hunter education classes, but also assists other instructors in developing their classes and recruits additional instructors.

Woodbury, 51, said he and Melissa were surprised and “very honored” by the award.

“I know there are a lot of people who are just as deserving if not even more deserving,” he said. “It’s a real shock.”

“Rick goes well above and beyond what is asked of him as an instructor and coordinator,” said Sgt. Jon wood, who supervises the hunter education program for the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “It’s easy to see why a panel of his peers selected him for this award.”

The typical hunter education course includes a minimum of 10 hours, covering both classroom and field work. Classes are generally held in outdoor clubs, schools, police stations and camps. The curriculum includes training in firearms safety, basic archery safety, hunting ethics, wildlife management, conservation, survival, regulations and a final written exam. There is also an online classroom option, followed by a field/skills test.

Woodbury has volunteered his time and expertise for both the traditional classroom and online formats.

According to Sgt. Wood, volunteers like Woodbury are essential to delivering quality hunter education to Michigan residents.

“Every year, the DNR helps anywhere from 24,000 to 32,000 people successfully complete their hunter education requirements,” said Sgt. Wood. “It’s because of committed volunteers like Rick Woodbury that we’re able to help new hunters build the awareness and confidence they need to be safe and successful in the field.”

There are currently more than 3,000 volunteer hunter education instructors available throughout every county in the state. To learn more about the program or find a local instructor, visit www.michigan.gov/huntereducation.

Logo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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