Texas, Oklahoma Wildlife Agencies Earn ATA’s R3 Partnership Awards

ATA’s Josh Gold and Dan Forster honor Texas and Oklahoma’s wildlife agencies with R3 Partnership Awards.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Cassie Scott

The ATA’s Dan Forster and Josh Gold honored the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation with the Archery Trade Association’s R3 Partnership Award for their states’ efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters.

“It was a privilege to recognize these two long-term state-agency partners, who have been leaders and strong advocates for growing archery and bowhunting in their states,” said Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer.

The ATA presented the awards during a luncheon it sponsored at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ annual meeting Sept. 10 in Tampa, Florida.

J.D. Strong, ODWC’s director, accepted the award for Oklahoma; and Clayton Wolf, TPWD’s wildlife division director, and Johnnie Smith, TPWD’s outreach and education director, accepted the award on behalf of Carter Smith, TPWD’s executive director.

J.D. Strong accepts the award for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Photo Credit: ATA

“We have a phenomenal staff that works incredibly hard, and it’s always nice for partners to recognize our efforts,” Strong said. “In Oklahoma, we lean hard on partnerships, and the ATA has helped construct community archery parks, as well as provide equipment kits for hundreds of Oklahoma schools. We never could have accomplished this much without the ATA’s support. We’re humbled by this award, as we know there are so many other state agencies out there working toward this same goal.”

The ODWC piloted the ATA’s Explore Bowhunting program in 2011, and has since invested $514,000 to match the ATA’s $330,000 contribution to launch Explore Bowhunting in 422 schools. It also launched ATA’s sister program Explore Bowfishing in 350 schools, and built three community archery parks. As proof the programs work, Oklahoma’s resident youth archery licenses increased from 3,643 in 2009 to 6,489 in 2016.

Oklahoma’s success exemplifies the innovative, sustainable programs and activities that boost archery and bowhunting participation.

Clayton Wolf and Johnie Smith accept on behalf of Carter Smith. Photo Credit: ATA

The TPWD has seen similar results after hosting the ATA’s first Archery Academy in 2010, and adopting Explore Bowhunting in 2013. The agency has since launched 150 Explore Bowhunting programs, which introduced over 38,000 students to bowhunting. The TPWD also started teaching the Spanish version of Explore Bowhunting, “Explora Caza Con Arco,” in 2017.

The agency trained over 300 instructors to teach Explore Bowhunting and 65 instructors to teach Explore Bowfishing after adopting the pilot program in 2017. Texas now has 40 Explore Bowfishing programs.

“Natural resource agencies like the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department share a common goal of providing outdoor recreation opportunities for (current) and future generations,” Smith said. “[This award] confirms that our efforts are on the right track, and that we’re moving the needle on our R3 efforts.”

With ATA’s help, the ODWC and TPWD expect continued growth and effectiveness in their R3 efforts.

“We’ll keep growing our in-school programs by 50 schools each year,” Strong said. “These schools receive training and equipment kits for NASP, Explore Bowhunting, Explore Bowfishing, hunter education and Fishing in the Schools. The more schools that hear about these programs and the effect they have on kids, the more schools reach out to us to get involved.”

Smith said R3 efforts are vital to archery, bowhunting and the industry nationwide.

“Archery is an easy-access activity,” Smith said. “It has the potential to (boost) participation in other shooting sports … and … general participation in the outdoors. Vigorous recruitment of new participants and effective retention efforts can translate into greater efficiency and effectiveness, economies of scale, and increases in equipment and accessory sales.”

Forster said these awards signal the ATA’s appreciation for partners and leaders who grow archery participation.

The selection process for the 2019 R3 Partnership Award begins in July 2019.

For more information, contact Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, at (312) 537-3140 or joshgold@archerytrade.org.

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