“It is truly a win-win for everyone,” said Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr., executive director of NRA General Operations. “With no financial investment of their own, states can now access match money and new hunters will receive top notch free education and certification.”
Officially known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, P-R distributes monies to state wildlife agencies for a variety of wildlife, conservation and shooting program projects through the taxation of firearms, archery equipment, and hunting license sales.
In 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said state wildlife agencies could count NRA’s free Online Hunter Education Courses as in-kind match dollars to access P-R funds. Oklahoma was one of the first states to take advantage of this change.
"Thanks to our partnership with the NRA and NRA-ILA, thousands of Oklahomans have taken the NRA free online hunter education course," said Lance Meek, Hunter Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation (ODWC). "Our transition from our own on-line course to the NRA course was smooth and flawless. In addition to great content, delivered at no cost, the ODWC has already received $81,880 in federal matching funds due to the NRA's donation of the course.”
Florida was also an early adopter of NRA’s free online hunter education courses. To date they’ve received $70,000 in federal matching funds. “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is committed to providing a variety of educational formats and opportunities to satisfy the needs of those interested in learning how to be safe, knowledgeable, responsible and involved hunters,” said Bill Cline, FWC’s section leader for Hunter Safety and Public Shooting Ranges. “We appreciate NRA’s support of our program and their investment in producing a high-quality course that students can take for free.”
State agencies taking part in this new program can now provide a unique service for their residents and create additional fish and wildlife conservation programs by accessing long awaited-for P-R funds.
“We always believed a free, quality online hunter education course would reduce the barriers of entry for first time hunters while helping state agencies recover P-R dollars. Our hope is more states follow Oklahoma and Florida’s lead and expand their hunter education and wildlife conservation programs for all to enjoy,” said Peter Churchbourne, Director od NRA Hunters Leadership Forum.