Young hunters have some great opportunities due to the cooperation between local businesses and dedicated volunteers.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife honored a local business for its work in securing hunting opportunities for the state's youth in Northwest Colorado.
Kennecott Energy, owner of Colowyo Coal Co., was the subject of praise from the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) for its youth hunting program.
Steve Hinkemyer of Kennecott Energy and Jerrell Massey of Northwest Ranching for Wildlife were recognized for their dedication to the program, designed to give youth the opportunity to hunt with high success rates. The program encourages their passion for the sport while allowing them to learn in a safe and ethical environment.
The DOW created the program to give inner-city children the chance to learn to hunt. Youth qualify by writing an essay and participating in community service projects for months prior to the hunting season. Once they successfully complete the program and a hunter safety class, they are allowed to hunt both deer and elk.
Massey then brings participants to the Kennecott Energy land he manages for the Ranching for Wildlife program.
Massey believes the program is a wonderful way to give youth an opportunity they normally wouldn't have.
"It's really enjoyable," he said. "It's neat to see the smile and the shine in their eyes when they are up here hunting."
As part of the program, a DOW officer stays with each participant when they are hunting.
This past hunting season, seven people, ranging in age from 12 to 16, hunted on Kennecott Energy land. Each shot an animal.
Massey was pleased with the DOW's recognition, but said the real thrill was being able to watch the children while they were out hunting.
"All I would ever want or need out of it is to be able to see the young people enjoy themselves in the outdoors," Massey said. "I feel fortunate to be able to participate in the program."
Though Massey downplays his role in giving youth the opportunity to hunt, Pat Dorsey, DOW public education coordinator, said the commitment volunteers show and their willingness to work with the children shows their dedication.
"We recognize people who show true commitment," Pat Dorsey, the DOW's public education coordinator, said. "They have demonstrated a commitment to youngsters. They have done the right thing and have done it unselfishly."
Hinkemyer was quick to deflect credit for the successful program to Massey, but did say that Kennecott Energy enjoys offering the opportunity to the inner-city kids. Kennecott Energy deems it important to work with both the children and the DOW, he said.
"We work closely with the Division on many programs," Hinkemyer said. "It is rewarding and we certainly like doing this type of thing for the community."