College Club Leaders Taking the Lead on Recruitment Efforts

Our collegiate program boasts some hard-working and dedicated emerging leaders in the conservation, hunting, and angling communities. Club leaders, many of which didn't grow up hunting or fishing themselves, are actively working to recruit new hunters and anglers at their universities. They are using their experience to shape the way they approach their outreach and are seeing amazing results. More impressively, they are doing this all while pursuing degrees and working part-time jobs. Here’s what some of them have been up to:

Torey Vayer

North Carolina State University

Torey serves as the vice-present for the NC state BHA club. She grew up in a DC suburb in Rockville, MD with a strong interest in the outdoors and wildlife, spending plenty of time outside whether it was hiking and playing at Rock Creek Park or doing all plethora of outdoor activities at day camp. Her mom would take her and her brother fishing where they would bait hooks with corn or hotdogs and catch the occasional sunfish. Through her minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Science she found a passion for conservation biology and came to understand the important part hunters and anglers play. Even though Torey does not consider herself a hunter or angler, she is pursuing a social science master’s degree where she is committed to working on R3 (recruitment, retention, and reactivation) initiatives targeted towards college students and has accomplished much of this through her position with the NC State BHA club.

Torey has ran several Getting Started Outdoors workshops which is a collaboration between NCSU, BHA, and NCWRC. The workshops are a part of her master’s thesis project. She is especially interested in recruiting non-hunters and first-time hunters and exploring new and innovative ways in which we do this. “It's of course valuable to recruit new hunters, but it's equally as valuable to recruit or create hunting advocates. I'd love to increase our non-hunter membership because it's extremely valuable to have the perspective when talking about protecting OUR public lands, right?”

Kyle Hildebrandt

University of Minnesota

Kyle serves as the president of the University of Minnesota BHA club. Growing up in southeast Minnesota he spent a lot of time on his grandparent’s farm shooting pigeons whenever he got the chance and at 16, he was introduced to duck hunting. He spent other days exploring rivers looking for trout on spinners and ultra-light rods in between school and playing hockey. After high school Kyle joined the Marines for 4 years before returning the Minnesota to pursue a degree in wildlife biology. Kyle, along with the help of some MN board members, founded the University of Minnesota BHA club.

While Kyle has led the club on several events this semester, including a trash cleanup and a presentation on the conservation role of a retriever for bird hunting, he has made it his main goal to take out as many new hunters as he can during waterfowl season. He has introduced 8 people to waterfowl hunting so far, each one of them successfully harvesting either a duck or a goose.

Looking forward, he is connecting club mentors with people interested in going out hunting or fishing. The club has plans to do ice fishing trips and fish fries over the winter. And when the ice melts, they will be taking anglers out on the water and hosting introduction to fly fishing clinics. “We welcome anyone with any type of experiences.”

Gabby Zaldumbide

Western Colorado University

Gabby serves double duty as secretary of the Western Colorado BHA club and as the Regional Director of the Colorado Chapter Leadership Team for Colorado BHA. She did not grow up hunting, but was first exposed to the importance of hunting in conservation during her time at UW-Madison studying wildlife ecology. Her interest in hunting grew through a Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow course and a learn to hunt turkey weekend through the Badger Hunting Club where she shot her first tom. Now, she spends much of her fall in the mountains of Colorado chasing squirrels, deer, elk, grouse, and turkey.

Gabby has been instrumental in getting women into hunting. She led a women-led firearm safety workshop with Open Arms of the Western Slope. She volunteered for the Colorado Hunting for Sustainability weekend with Timber to Table and where she was the shooter for the weekend, taking down a beautiful Colorado mule deer doe. She also planned and hosted a Learn to Hunt Turkey seminar on Colorado Public Lands Day. In her free time she offers to take friends, students, and colleagues small game hunting, to share what she’s learned or to give them some elk to try. She has done all this while pursuing her master’s degree at Western.

Looking forward, she hopes to continue taking people out in the field to get them acquainted with hunting. She has big dreams of more Learn-to-Hunt type seminars and perhaps pursuing a career in the R3 world. She’s even toyed with the idea of creating an R3-based guide service someday. “I'm a firm believer that a career based on sharing the highest quality food, knowledge, and time spent outdoors with folks who want to do just that is a career well-spent.”

 

About Kylie Schumacher

Collegiate Club Coordinator for BHA. Wildlifer, new hunter, budding angler, traveler and epicure.