Volunteer Instructor Newsletter - December 2020

minnesota department of natural resources

Volunteer Safety Instructor Newsletter

December 2020

Season's Greetings!

The year 2020 will go down as one of the most memorable - if not unusual - years many of us have experienced.  We are all navigating through these times together and looking forward to putting the pandemic behind us and getting back to normal.

While safety classes and most other related activities were either postponed or cancelled in early spring, you have stuck with us through it all. We certainly appreciate all the phone calls and emails seeking to find alternate solutions to try to get students trained.  You have likely all received numerous calls from parents seeking assistance with getting their child through a course. 

While we know you would have done more to help people in your community if you could have, the pandemic had other plans. Thank you for your patience as we waited for authorization to resume classes, and your understanding when we had to have the classes postponed again in November.

As we wrap up this challenging year, we're reminded once again of the outstanding group of volunteers we have in the DNR Enforcement Education/Safety Training section. On behalf of the Department of Natural Resources, we want to offer a sincere Thank You, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We look forward to working with you in 2021!

Instructor Status Update

We realize that many instructors were unable to conduct a class this year, and to keep everyone's instructor status active, we have given credit for teaching in 2020 to each of our volunteers. If you have questions, please reach out to your RTO or the Education/Safety Training Office.

Some 2020 Highlights:

2019 ATV instructor of the year

janelle secord

Recreational Vehicle Coordinator Bruce Lawrence and Janelle Secord.

Janelle Secord, an ATV safety training instructor from Coon Rapids, has been named the 2019 ATV Safety Instructor of the Year.

An avid ATV rider and active member of the North Metro Trail Riders Club, Secord has taught two classes per year for the past 12 years. She’s also been active in the DNR’s Volunteer Trail Ambassador program since it began more than 10 years ago, promoting safe trail riding with riders she encounters along the trails.

“Janelle has the unique ability to do a top-notch job of organizing and preparing two ATV safety classes every year, all the while never losing sight of their primary goal: To give new riders the tools they need to be safe riders,” said Bruce Lawrence, recreational vehicle coordinator for the DNR Enforcement Division. “She takes pride in her teaching, cares about her students and does what it takes to ensure everyone is equipped to responsibly enjoy their time on the trails.”

Congratulations, Janelle!

Firearms Safety Instructor of the Year for 2019

dave olson

Dave Olson, with Conservation Officer Chad Davis

The 2019 Firearms Safety Instructor of the Year is Dave Olson of Owatonna, MN. 

Dave has been a firearms safety instructor since 1966, and has helped more than 1,200 students earn their firearms safety certificate.

"It's hard to sufficiently express our appreciation for the dedication of the volunteers who make our firearms safety program the success that it is," said conservation officer Chad Davis, who is stationed in Owatonna.  "Not only has Dave spent a lifetime helping people in the Owatonna area be safe around firearms, but his contribution to making hunting safer throughout the state can't be overstated.  His dedication is incredible."

In 1991, Olson testified at the state Legislature as part of a successful effort to require firearms safety certification prior to purchasing a license to hunt in Minnesota.  As a result of that law, anyone born after December 31, 1979, is required to have firearms safety certification in order to buy a hunting license in Minnesota.

Congratulations, Dave!

2019 Snowmobile Instructor of the year

todd sanden

Todd Sanden with Conservation Officer Annette Kyllo.

The 2019 Snowmobile Instructor of the Year is Todd Sanden of Eyota, MN. 

With support from the local Hiawatha Sno-Seekers Snowmobile Club, Sanden has been a volunteer snowmobile safety instructor for more than 25 years. Sanden and his late friend Randy Campbell, who both were avid snowmobile riders, began teaching classes through community education as a way to introduce kids to snowmobile riding and pass along their love for the sport. Sanden has taught snowmobile safety to multiple generations of families, and is known as a strict but inspirational teacher who’s devoted to instilling the importance of safe riding to all of his students.

“Todd has a way of connecting with all of his students and does whatever it takes to ensure they understand that a successful snowmobile ride is a safe snowmobile ride,” said Conservation Officer Annette Kyllo, who is stationed in Rochester. “He’s selfless with his time and serves as a wonderful example for his students, and for all snowmobile riders. Snowmobiling is the safe sport it is today in large part because of the dedication of volunteer instructors like Todd.”

Congratulations, Todd!

2020 Snowmobile Instructor of the year nominations now being accepted

The DNR safety training and education section will now be accepting nominations for the 2020 Snowmobile Safety Instructor of the year. The nomination period is open starting on December 1st through midnight December 31st.

Any DNR certified volunteer snowmobile safety instructor is eligible to be nominated. Please consider nominating a volunteer instructor who has significantly promoted snowmobile safety through extraordinary service in a training and education setting. 

When writing up a nomination, focus on the following key points:

  • The nominee should be someone you know that does a great job at teaching safety to youth and also takes the time to mentor other safety instructors. 
  • The nominee has been actively involved with youth snowmobile safety training.
  • Are there any extra duties this Instructor has taken on, beyond what is expected? i.e.; involvement in other community activities, volunteer roles, etc.
  • Anything else that makes this instructor stand out!

Starting on December 1st the process for submitting nominations will be offered through the online portal link below. This new online process can be completed by answering the four questions related to the Nominee’s involvement with snowmobile safety training. Once the online form is completed, the user will click on the “submit” button to automatically send the form to Recreational Vehicle Coordinator Bruce Lawrence. From there the nominations will be distributed to a nominations panel for scoring and final selection.

To compete the online Nomination Form, click on the following link:  


2020 ATV Instructor of the year nominations

We will be accepting nominations for ATV Instructor of the Year beginning January 1 thru January 31, 2021.  The link for the online nomination form will be emailed to you prior to January 1.  Stay tuned!

New Safety Training Office Location

We've moved!  As of late November, the Safety Training Office moved out of Nelson Hall into a different building at Camp Ripley (Building 2-202) - (please note - our mailing address has not changed). We have been busy unpacking boxes and putting things away, while providing a (mostly) seamless transition. We are up and running in our new digs.



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.

     IHEA YouTube videos:  

IHEA's Hunters Connect YouTube Videos


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