Recognizing decades of dedication to pursuing big game and to promoting our hunting and wildlife conservation heritage, Safari Club International (SCI) named Brenda Potterfield—co-founder of MidwayUSA—the recipient of its 2019 SCI Diana Award at the 47th Annual SCI Hunters’ Convention in Reno, Nev., Jan. 12. Sponsored by the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF), the award recognizes the women of SCI who specifically have excelled in international big game hunting, shown exemplary ethics afield and have dedicated their time and energy to enhancing wildlife conservation and education.
The prestigious award is named for Diana, the huntress of Roman mythology who reigned as goddess of wild animals and the hunt. I’d say SCI selected a well-deserving recipient considering Potterfield's hunting success and industry support are remarkable, accounting for 141 hunts on six continents where she has harvested more than 100 wild game species. In 2014, she received the NRA WLF Lifetime Achievement Award.
Those who know Potterfield understand her passion for hunting runs deep. Raised in rural Missouri, she was exposed to hunting through her father and at an early age viewed it as being synonymous with family. She exposed her own children, son Russ and daughter Sara, to the outdoors as soon as they were old enough to shoot and hunt. She said hunting became the activity that brought the family together and keeps her family relationships strong. Whether in a cabin in the mountains or sitting around a campfire on an African safari, they would reflect on the day’s hunt, talking about their day and what they saw and connecting as a family. The hunting bond now extends to her grandchildren as she makes plans for a three-generation girl’s hunt in Spain with her daughter and granddaughter, Eliza.
Humbly accepting the honor, Potterfield said, “This country kid has hunted all over the world—and I love it.” Recognizing her husband, Larry, she said, “Larry is my rock, my strength, my friend, my husband, sometimes my gunbearer—and sometimes he stays at home and he’s fine with that.” She thanked her children for being great supporters of her quest to hunt and to her six grandchildren said, “You represent everything we stand for.” She also thanked her professional hunters and outfitters for helping her to bring her dreams to fruition, and recognized the NRA WLF for its leadership and support of wildlife conservation and the Second Amendment. Last but not least, she thanked her Diana sisters for their dedication to protecting hunting and for their encouragement.
“This is not the end of my journey but a new beginning to reach higher, to work harder for the Second Amendment and the things we hold so dear,” she said. And in true “Larry Potterfield signature style” she graciously added, “I’m Brenda Potterfield of MidwayUSA. Thanks for your business.” MidwayUSA is a strong supporter of conservation organizations such as the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Witnessing the positive impact hunting has on her family, Brenda focuses on ensuring future generations have the same opportunities. Today the Potterfields’ philanthropic efforts primarily focus on supporting high school and collegiate shooting teams, providing the resources for future generations. They are also members of the NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum. For anyone who is unaware of the Potterfields’ role as industry benefactors, here are just a few of the duo’s respected accomplishments:
• 1992, the Potterfields founded the NRA Round-Up program, which asks MidwayUSA customers if they want to round up their purchases to an even dollar amount. As of about a year ago, customers had contributed more than $15 million to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action thanks to “rounding up.”
• In 1992, they also helped to found the Friends of NRA, which has raised more than $740 million for The NRA Foundation.
• In 2007, they established the MidwayUSA Foundation, which has provided more than $17.8 million in financial support to more than 2,600 youth shooting teams.
• Since 2008, the Potterfield family has donated over $168 in charitable contributions, meeting the benchmark IRS 50 percent maximum contribution level since 2011.
• In 2012, they started the Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience, providing opportunities for nearly 1.5 million young people to learn about wildlife conservation, hunting and the shooting sports.
• In 2014, the NRA presented them with the Life of Liberty Leadership Award for ongoing leadership in the development of programs supporting the Second Amendment.
• Also in 2014, they received the Outdoor Channel’s Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for their activism on behalf of the outdoor community.
• In 2015, they received the Beretta Conservation Leadership Award for exemplary leadership in wildlife conservation.
• Also in 2015, they received the John L. Morris Award for leadership in conservation and a commitment to fish and wildlife stewardship.
• In 2017, they received the Peter Hathaway Capstick Hunting Heritage Award honoring their significant contributions to wildlife conservation and wildlife habitat.
• Also in 2017, the Potterfields were recognized by the NRA Publications Division with the 2017 NRA Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award for their excellence and innovation in the firearm and hunting industry, marking the first time a husband-and-wife team received the honor.
No doubt we hunters and shooters will continue to be grateful for what both Brenda and Larry Potterfield have done—and will continue to do—as they quietly work for the greater good of our all-American traditions. There is only one thing more important to them than preserving our hunting and shooting sports traditions, and that is family.