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Alberta Hunter Education

The goal of Conservation Education is to “increase the level of public commitment to wildlife and fisheries conservation”. We are proud to provide education services for Conservation Education, Youth Programs and Firearms Safety.

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Conservation Education Celebrates the 1,000,000th Student!


On February 17th, 2007 at the Annual Banquet and WISE Award presentation, we celebrated a very significant milestone. That milestone was the graduation of the 1,000,000th student in Conservation Education. The student went through the program at our Edmonton Conservation Education Centre for Excellence on October 15th, 2006.

The Instructor that hosted the course was our very own Len Gransch, who was certified to teach Conservation and Hunter Education in the late 70's. Len proudly reflects that he receives the “FUEL” that feeds most volunteers through interaction and association with the students in his classes and in the field. This class session was a good example of such motivation.

At the start of the class Len, as he does in all his classes, asked all participants to state their names and indicate why they were taking the course. When it came to this young lad he told the group his name was Bill Sperling and that he had looked into hunting and thought it was something he would like to do. The next youngster was Ed who informed the group that Bill was his brother and that after Bill talked to him about his hunting interest he decided it would be a good thing for him to try as well. The next person was Felix who told the balance of the class he was there to support his two sons Bill and Ed. Felix informed everyone that no one in their immediate family had really hunted before.

As is the case during breaks there is a lot of interaction with the students. The Sperling's were very inquisitive and exhibited a genuine joy in learning. During the class Len informed everyone about our First Time Hunts and Mentorship opportunities.

During the class all three Sperling family members exhibited a great interest in all aspects of the H.E. course. On test day they showed up well prepared all scored in the high 90's on their test.

Felix indicated to Len that if they were now going to be hunters they should probably look into purchasing a firearm. Len informed him of the procedures involved and they signed up for our next Canadian Firearms Safety Course starting only 3 days later. All family members once again exhibited enthusiasm for the subject material and the firearms handling. Felix told Len that they had fired a .22 rifle on a farm years ago. Once again everyone passed with flying colors – all of them once again scoring in the high 90's.

During this course Len and the crew talked about the possibility of the boys going on the First Time Hunt to Oyen. After some planning it was decided that all three would be part of the antlerless mule deer hunt that AHEIA hosts with the very able assistance of the Oyen Rod and Gun Club. The Oyen group has demonstrated incredible energy and leadership on an annual basis as they work to perpetuate the hunt and what the hunt means to all involved (That’s another story for an upcoming newsletter). They corresponded back and forth about equipment and logistics over the next few weeks and Len could tell that the excitement was building from the tone of their voices. Felix told Len he took the boys out shopping and made sure they had all the necessary equipment.

Departure day finally arrived and at last the crew was on their way for their first hunt. The drive down was filled with excitement and a bit of apprehension but everyone was in high spirits and they had some laughs along the way. You can tell a lot about people when you are 'trapped' in the same confined space for hours. Len quickly learned that Felix had instilled high family values in his boys. Ed and Bill were always polite and attentive and at times Len forgot how young they really were (Bill will be 16 in September and Ed is 18).

At hunt camp they were always friendly and excited when anyone in the group was lucky enough to harvest a deer. In the end Felix and Ed each harvested nice does and were pleased at the prospect of dining on their bounty. Although Bill was the one who started the ball rolling he did not take home a deer. Bill was still happy about the whole adventure and told us he had a great time. As all good hunters know the object of the hunt is the total experience vs. a “full bag” and Bill clearly understood this even though this was an inaugural experience for him. This was clearly the sign of a young man with a keen sense of understanding. Len has promised that he would take him out again for another hunting trip sometime in the future.

The ride home proved to be lots of fun. Len felt like he was with some old friends that he had known for years.

Len and our hunter mentors will be hooking up with the Sperling family for more hunting opportunities in 2007.

At our annual banquet we commemorated this occasion by presenting Bill with a special framed certificate commemorating the 1,000,000 student milestone. Bill was also presented with a brand new Browning BL 17 rifle. Deputy Minister Brad Pickering and Instructor Len Gransch were on the podium to make the presentation. Young Bill then took the podium and shared some words of wisdom with the audience and made all present proud to be part of this heart-warming celebration.

The 1 Million student milestone is a phenomenal achievement indeed. While it took some 47 years to reach the first million, we are assured that it will take significantly less time to reach the next million. With the introduction of on-line training and the significant increase in student enrollment we are sure to continue to spread the news of Conservation Education and the value of wildlife and wild places. In 2007, we project that 55,000 students will be touched by at least 1 component of our program outreach. Every volunteer who has participated in the astounding record as well as those who stand ready to assist on a go forward basis need to feel a tremendous sense of pride in spreading the word and helping to make Albertans lives better by sharing this mission.

Congratulations once again to Bill Sperling and all involved in helping us celebrate this special occasion.




Back to Who is AHEIA?

Hunting and Conservation have always gone hand in hand. Hunter Education is a vital contributor to wise conservation practices today, tomorrow and the future. AHEIA is doing a wonderful job and will continue to do so. I thank you all for that.

- Jim Dougherty (June 12, 2002)

Working together, our organizations can have a positive impact on the future of hunting, fishing and habitat. Congratulations to the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association Volunteers and keep up the great work!

- Gerry Kaumeyer (Pheasants Forever, Calgary Chapter)

AHEIA continues to do positive and pro-active work bringing on the next generation of Conservationists. Congratulations to all the Volunteer Instructors and keep up the great work!

- Dave Powell (Alberta Fish and Game Association)

Volunteers play an integral role and I truly appreciate your efforts to educate residents about our connection with the outdoors, and the importance of conserving Alberta’s fish and wildlife resources. Importantly, your leadership helps inspire more stewards of our natural resources.

- The Honourable David C. Coutts, Minister, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (January 2006)

The Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association is clearly committed to conservation education and is known for its strong volunteer spirit. Albertans benefit from your values and knowledge and generations to come will appreciate your efforts.

- The Honourable Ralph Klein, Feb 11, 2006, Premier of Alberta

You are among the finest stewards of land in Alberta. Your work over 45 years has ensured the youth of the province continue to play an active role in conserving Alberta’s fish and wildlife resources. Your assistance in establishing Provincial Hunting Day as an annual event is appreciated.

- The Honourable Ted Morton, Feb 2008, Minister, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development

Alberta has benefited from 45 years of conservation education. More than 55,000 students took part in this program in 2008, and each year that number grows. With more than one million students since the program began, it is difficult to find a hunter in Alberta who has not been positively influenced by your conservation education programs.

- The Honourable Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta, Feb 14, 2009

…this program is much more than a course on safe hunting practices. Course participants not only learn about conservation, they also become ambassadors, passing on knowledge and passion to their children, parents, friends and neighbors. For that and the many other contributions your organization makes to the quality of life in our Province, I thank you.

- The Honourable Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta, Feb 6, 2010

I would like to thank the many volunteers in your organization who generously give of their time and wisdom. They are to be commended for their dedication, stewardship of our resources, and for being positive role models in the lives of others.

- The Honourable Mel Knight, Minister Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Feb 2010

My thanks to all of you for being ambassadors and educators in this great province.

- The Honourable Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta, February 5th, 2011

You reached a major milestone in in the one-millionth graduate of the Alberta Hunter Education program. Continued excellence is demonstrated by those involved in your organization that pass on their knowledge and passion to the next generation of hunters, anglers and trappers.

- The Honourable Frank Oberle, Minister, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, January 2012

Everyone involved with your wonderful organization has helped make Alberta a better place by inspiring and educating the next generation. For that, the Government of Alberta thanks you.

- The Honourable Allison M.Redford, QC, Premier of Alberta, Feb 11, 2012

Thanks for your dedication and hard work. It is no surprise that the number of hunters continues to increase in Alberta, bucking trends in other jurisdictions. You should be proud of this accomplishment.

- The Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister, Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, January 2012

While hunting is a hobby for some, it is a way of life for others. Hunting is a life-skill and we must ensure the new generation of hunters is adept, responsible and knowledgeable. Thanks to the thousands of hunter educators across Alberta, our new hunters are well informed and will continue the tradition in good stead.

- The Honourable Robin Campbell, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, February 2014

You have inspired many Albertans by sharing your passion for our natural resources and leading by example. Together with Albertans like you, I know we can protect our natural legacy for future generations.

- The Honourable Alison M. Redford, QC, Premier of Alberta, February 9, 2013

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of conservation education across our province. I am pleased to note that more than 1.6 million Albertans have enrolled in conservation education programs, which are provided by more than 3200 volunteers.

- The Honourable Alison M. Redford, QC, Premier of Alberta , February 8, 2014

From the Outdoor Women’s Program, to instructor workshops, and Canadian Firearm Safety courses, the Association has consistently demonstrated its leadership on conservation education. The Association continues to offer the online Hunter Education, Kidwise Firearm Safety, and essential training including the very popular Archery Essentials and Bear Essentials. All of these components add up to a strong and resilient culture of conserving wildlife, which takes the continuous commitment of each and every participant.

- The Honourable Kyle Fawcett, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, February 7, 2015

The efforts of the association and its hard-working members play a crucial role in forging a culture of responsible and ethical hunting and fishing. As Albertans we look forward to many more years of successful conservation education programs, workshops, and activities.

- The Honourable Jim Prentice, Premier of Alberta, February 7th, 2015

I appreciate your outstanding role in helping ensure that Alberta’s proud hunting and fishing tradition continues to play an important role in our culture and communities. For more than half a century, your growing success has resulted in the most successful education program of its kind in North America.

- The Honourable Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta, February 6, 2016

Your dedication to educating Albertans about environmental stewardship and wildlife protection has created a legacy in the more than 1.8 million graduates of your programs. This year alone, the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association will reach almost 100,000 students Province wide through programs that teach all aspects of conservation education.

- The Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, February 6, 2016