Volunteer Instructor Newsletter - Fall 2019

minnesota department of natural resources

Volunteer Instructor Newsletter

Fall 2019

Silver Bay police chief is 2018 ATV safety instructor of the year

Doug Frericks

Doug Frericks (L) receives the 2018 ATV instructor of the year award from CO Dave Schottenbauer.

Doug Frericks of Sliver Bay has been named 2018 ATV safety instructor of the year.

A life-long recreational vehicle operator, Frericks has a keen understanding of the ATV trails and riding opportunities around Silver Bay.  He grew up in the area, but when he returned five years ago to serve as the city's police chief, Frericks realized quickly there wasn't a program to teach riders about safe ATV operation.  In short order, he recruited other volunteer instructors and worked with his local DNR Enforcement Division conservation officer and regional training officer to make classes available.

"Chief Frericks has filled a valuable role in a community with many ATV enthusiasts, but that lacked an ATV safety program," said CO David Schottenbauer, who patrols the Silver Bay area and nominated Frericks for the award.  "His leadership, paired with his knowledge of the community and needs of the area, has fostered strong buy-in from the public."

Frericks leads much of the instruction during ATV safety classes and also provides his personal ATVs for use during the field-exercise portion of safety training.  In addition, he leads the snowmobile safety program in the area and has encouraged other law enforcement officers to become instructors.  One officer, for example, is working to set up a firearms safety class in Silver Bay.

"As the local conservation officer, I could not be more grateful for his commitment and dedication to the DNR's safety programs and our role in ensuring safe recreational use of our vast natural resources," Schottenbauer said.

Congratulations, Doug!

Brad Wells of Granada is 2018 firearms safety instructor of the year

brad wells

L to R: Regional Training Officer Jen Mueller, Brad Wells, and Minnsota Volunteer Safety Instructor Association President Franklin Flack.

Brad Wells, of Granada in southern Minnesota, has been named the 2018 firearms safety volunteer instructor of the year, by the Department of Natural Resources. A retired teacher and the assistant coach of his local high school clay target league team, Wells has been the lead firearms safety instructor in his area for the past 18 years. He’s been a firearms safety instructor for more than 20 years.

Wells, who taught elementary school for more than 30 years, has been instrumental in increasing the number of firearms safety instructors in his area. As the number of women and girls signing up for firearms safety has risen in recent years, Wells has responded by working to add more female instructors.

So why does Wells devote so much of himself to teahing others about safe firearms handling, ethical hunting, and Minnesota’s natural resources? According to his fellow instructors, who nominated him for the award, Wells has this to say: “I do this for selfish reasons. That one day you will fill my shoes so that I can see my children, grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren utilize this great resource and shooting sport we fight to preserve.”

Wells also has been active in the Fairmont Trap Club and helped build its rifle and pistol range. He’s secured grants to improve the facility, served on its board of directors, and been part of events hosted there. Wells is active in conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, and seeks out opportunities to educate adults and kids alike about the outdoors.

“Volunteer instructors like Brad are what bring the DNR’s safety education programs to life,” said Jen Mueller, southwest regional training officer for the DNR Enforcement Division. “Their dedication to the students, safety and our natural resources is inspiring. We couldn’t be more thankful to have leaders like Brad working alongside us to help foster stronger connections to fishing, hunting and the outdoors.”

Congratulations, Brad!

Morgan Firearms Safety Instructors Honored

Instructor Group

From L to R: Regional Training Officer Jen Mueller, Dennis Kerkhoff, Joseph Larsen, James Larsen, Patrick Larsen and CO Matt Loftness.

Regional Training Officer Jen Mueller (left) and Conservation Officer Matt Loftness (right) presented four volunteer firearms safety instructors with awards, marking 30 years of service, on June 26 at the Morgan Sportsman's Club.  The group reminisced on teaching generations of students from the area, including their own kids and grandchildren.

"I'm grateful for instructors like these four who play such an important role in the community," Mueller said.  "You can clearly see they still have a passion for teaching youth firearms safety."

Congratulations to Dennis, Joe, Jim and Pat!

Firearms safety instructor of Granite Falls reaches 50-year mark

Ronald Bergman

Ronald Bergman (L) of Granite Falls, recently received a 50-year instructor award presented by CO Matt Loftness .

Instructors celebrate 30 years of teaching bowhunter education

bowhunter instructors

From L - R: CO Tony Salzer, Robert Bullis, Frank Flack, Doug Strecker, Howard Bork, Kathyrn Strecker, Jerry Notch, and RTO Jen Mueller. Not pictured: Richard Phillips.

On Saturday, July 27th, a team of bowhunter instructors held a bowhunter education class at Rapids Archery Club in Andover.

They also were each presented with their 30-year instructor award.

Marilyn Bentz, executive director of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, also gave a presentation at the class before the students were taken outside for outdoor activities.  Bentz was grateful for the opportunity to reward this group of instructors, noting that the instructors gave good instruction with class interaction, saying, "This team is great!"

Congratulations All!

Adrian Meyer of Eden Valley receives 30-year award


Outdoor groups fund new firearms for local safety courses

Firearms Safety Instructors

The Vikings Sportsmen, Geneva Capital, the Alexandria chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and the Carlos Rod and Gun Club all helped to fund 12 new .22 single-shot rifles to be used in local gun safety programs. Representatives from the groups are (left to right) Chris Kleine, Mark Nohre, Ray Larson, Roy Wilken, Todd Whiting, Dwayne Waldorf, Gene Sullivan, Tim Olson and Dean Krebs (kneeling). Also pictured is area conservation officer Mitch Lawler (right).

Morken, Eric L. (2019, July 23).  Outdoor groups fund new firearms for local safety courses.  Alexandria Echo Press.

Thanks to some local outdoor groups coming together, students participating in youth firearms safety class in the Alexandria area will have new and safer firearms to work with.

The Viking Sportsmen, Alexandria chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and the Carlos Rod and Gun Club, all banded together to donate almost $2,300 for the purchase of 12 .22 caliber rifles and a hard case to store them in that will be used during field training at the end of each firearms safety course.  Geneva Capital in Alexandria also donated money to the Viking Sportsmen that was earmarked for this purchase.

"It's essential," area DNR conservation officer Mitch Lawler said, of getting the new .22 rifles.  "It's much safer as a program to bring firearms we know are kept safe, kept unloaded, kept in good working condition.  To have good, safe new firearms is awesome."

The .22’s that were used prior to this purchase were between 25-30 years old, 17-year Alexandria area firearm safety instructor Jeff Parkin said. A lot of rounds were fired through those over the course of the training process.

Parkin said the guns that were purchased will also help fit those going through the safety courses much better. There are some adults who take part, along with older kids, and of the 12 new .22’s purchased, four of those are single-shot, bolt-action Savages that are standard size. The other eight are Savage Rascals, which is a youth model single-shot, bolt-action .22 that is better suited for the many younger kids who take part in the field training.

Lawler does not instruct any of the classroom settings locally, but he is required to speak to each class that comes through them in the Alexandria program. He also goes to each field day and safely stores the firearms that are used in the area for that final training.

Lawler saw a need for new firearms in order to assure a safe gun for participants to use, and he says local groups were eager to step up for the purchase.

“It’s unbelievable to have the support of these clubs,” Lawler said. “It’s not that I had to ask two or three times. I brought it up once to these groups and they were more than willing to cover the cost. (The guns) don’t leave the Alexandria area. They don’t go to different parts of the state. They stay right here in my work station and serve the kids of the classes in this area.”

Funding a project like this to help out local youth is something that fits right in with the model that many area outdoor groups are going with.

“Our focus is on youth right now, and that’s the reason we put on the youth day,” Viking Sportsmen president Gene Sullivan said. “When (Lawler) said that they needed some guns for teaching gun safety, that’s one of the first steps is to get your training. Our whole deal is train the kids and keep them going.”

The Youth Outdoor Activity Day that Sullivan referenced is hosted by the Viking Sportsmen and the Douglas County chapter of Pheasants Forever.

The youth day is coming off its fifth year, and drew 2,212 kids on Aug. 26, 2018. That event, which will be held this year on Aug. 25 at the Alexandria Shooting Park, had 47 outdoor stations that ran the gamut from hunting and fishing themed to an ATV course, rock climbing wall, campfire building, orienteering, mountain biking and more. All of it is free while being funded and staffed by businesses, organizations and outdoor groups.

“We try to help everybody out, but our main focus is on youth,” Sullivan said. “That’s what we try to utilize our funds for. Without groups like the Minnesota Deer Hunters and Carlos Rod and Gun, we wouldn’t have a youth outdoor activity day. It wouldn’t come together.”

Outdoor groups in the area have a history of working together on a number of issues. Walleye stocking on area lakes, the youth day and now the purchasing of new firearms for the gun safety program have all benefited from a collaborative effort.

“I feel it’s really beneficial,” Dwayne Waldorf of the Carlos Rod and Gun Club said. “If it wasn’t for some of the other organizations, we probably wouldn’t be involved in some of this. Not that we wouldn’t want to be, but it’s a joint venture. One group’s involved with it, and we’re trying to help that work a little better.”

In the end, all the groups are in this for the same reason. That’s getting more people outdoors.

“What we’re seeing is fishing licenses are staying pretty steady, but hunting-license numbers are going down,” Mark Nohre of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association said. “By doing this with the firearm safety, being involved with the high school trap shooting -- the last number I saw is 81 percent of the high school trap shooters bought hunting licenses. That should trend this number of hunters back up in a more favorable manner.”

Websites for Safety Training Instructors




Henry Repeating Arms Company  .22 rifles, both Lever and Bolt action - 


718/499-5600 or visit their website at:  Henry Repeating Rifles


Hunter Safety Systems - Fall Arrest Harness   Toll Free 877-296-3528 or go to:         Savage Arms   .22 bolt action youth models - single shot


Third Hand Archery - Tree Stand Gun Hoist and other training aids available for purchase.


Education materials can be purchased at Federal Premium Education Materials.


IHEA - Subscribe to the International Hunter Education Association Email Newsletter.



Adaptive Equipment for Disabled Hunters  


Alan Madison DVDs


DNR Instructor Page


Ducks Unlimited


Hunter Education Tools


Izaak Walton League


MN Deer Hunters Association


MN Shooting Ranges


MN Volunteer Instructor Association


Nat'l Bow Hunter Ed Foundation


Nat'l Shooting Sports Foundation


Nat'l Wild Turkey Foundation


Outdoor Edge


Pheasants Forever


Ruffed Grouse Society


Safari Club


Turn In Poachers




American Council of Snowmobile Associations






Heads Up Braking System


MN 4-Wheel Drive Association


MN United Snowmobilers Association

Nat'l Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council