by Brian McCombie - Thursday, August 5, 2021
At the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission’s meeting held on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, the NRA’s own Peter Churchbourne was honored as the Florida FWC Commission’s Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year.
Technically speaking, Churchbourne, Director of the Hunters’ Leadership Forum, is not an FWC hunter safety instructor. So, then … why the award?
“We honored Peter Churchbourne with the Florida FWC Hunter Safety Instructor of the year because his support of our hunter safety program is unmatched,” said Bill Cline, FWC's hunter safety and public shooting ranges section leader. “During a time when distance learning was the only option for new hunters, the free NRA online hunter safety course he helped develop allowed Florida to continue meeting the demand for high-quality instruction.”
That “time,” of course, was the recent COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled face-to-face instruction.
“And the fact this course is available at no cost to the student or the FWC means entire families can learn about hunting and their role in conservation without cost being a barrier,” Cline continued. “Thanks to Peter, this course delivers over $100,000 a year in value to Florida's hunter safety program."
“I’m thrilled and honored to be the one representing the NRA with receiving this award,” said Churchbourne. “Obviously, there is a whole team that made that free course a reality, and I know every one of them is just as proud of it as I am. If it were not for the trust and partnership with the Florida FWC, our course would not be utilized to its full potential—and Florida residents would not have had access to a free online alternative.”
As reported by NRAHLF.org in April 2020, Churchbourne noted that Florida uses the NRA course to count toward matching funds under the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. Essentially, the NRA course counts the same as what it would cost to have a volunteer teach the subject matter. Important to note, Florida was the first state to get an online course approved for matching P-R dollars.
“This allows for the state using the course to receive Pittman-Robertson money based on the value of our free course so they can do other important work in hunter education, wildlife conservation or range development,” Churchbourne explained.
Now available in 11 states, the NRA Hunter Education Course provides a fun, safe, modern and free online education, delivering an important option for new hunters to become certified.
For more information on the NRA course, click here.
“The plan we built for this project at the NRA in 2016 is being fully executed in the state of Florida,” added Churchbourne. “Watching everything come full circle in a few short years is the very definition of teamwork.”
An avid outdoorsman, conservationist and steadfast advocate for all hunters, Churchbourne’s passions include hunting waterfowl with his Labs, chasing turkeys, bow hunting and introducing new people to the life outside. He is an NRA-certified shotgun, pistol and rifle instructor who enjoys competition shooting in USPSA, 3-Gun and 2-Gun tournaments. Churchbourne came to the NRA after 17 years at Ducks Unlimited where he held various leadership positions around the country.
In his first few years at the NRA, Churchbourne was not only responsible for producing the above-cited online hunter education course, he also was tasked with working with a team inside and outside the NRA to create the NRA’s recently released How to Talk About Hunting book and related communication strategies in support of hunting. He sits on the boards for several outdoor organizations and enjoys helping to create new leaders within the outdoor professional arena.
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