The Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Commission recognized Jim LePeak of Jackson County as the 2011 Hunter Education Instructor of the Year at the commission’s Dec. 8 meeting in Lansing.

A resident of Munith, Mich., LePeak has volunteered his time to the DNR’s Hunter Education program since 1999, serving as an instructor as well as a coordinator – equipping and providing training to other instructors – for Jackson and Hillsdale counties.

“Volunteer hunter education instructors like Jim LePeak are vital to developing knowledgeable, safe and responsible hunters, and we are grateful for all that they do,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “Jim goes above and beyond in his efforts to carry on Michigan’s rich hunting heritage.”

LePeak volunteers his time as a proctor for the annual Michigan Youth Hunter Education Challenge and participates as an instructor and range safety officer for the DNR’s week long Hunter Education Academy each year. He also helped in facilitating a first-aid and CPR class for hunter education instructors in Jackson County.

“Jim tirelessly promotes the hunter education program – participating in local parades and community events, providing incentives to students who take his class and even including information about upcoming classes on his answering machine,” Stokes added. “He has also recruited many new instructors to the program, including his two sons and his grandson.”

LePeak serves as treasurer of the Michigan Hunter Education Instructor Association and was instrumental in the dissemination of donated computers to instructors throughout southern Michigan. He is also certified as an International Bowhunter Education Program instructor, offering his knowledge and expertise to prospective archery hunters in his area.

Hunter education in Michigan has taught thousands of people safe hunting techniques, firearm handling and hunter ethics and has had a dramatic impact on reducing hunting incidents in our state. To learn more about the DNR’s hunter education program, visit www.michigan.gov/huntereducation.

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