Rock Rapids hunter education team wins award | Sports
ROCK RAPIDS—Jeff Schram thought someone jumped the gun at the Iowa Hunter Education Instructor Association’s awards ceremony when he heard his team’s name called.
“It was kind of a surprise to us,” he said. “At first we thought they were kidding, but they weren’t.”
Schram, the lead instructor for the hunter education team in Rock Rapids, and his team were named the State of Iowa Hunter Education Team of the Year for 2019 at the event, which was held March 12 in LeMars.
In addition to Schram, who lives in Rock Rapids, the other members of the team are Mike Hoing of George, Bill Mammenga of Rock Rapids, Larry Veon of Rock Rapids, Scott Stuerman of Rock Rapids and Schram’s wife, Laureen.
The team was nominated by their peers and their recreational safety officer, Marty Eby.
“That we were the one that won, we felt really humbled that our peers thought that much of us,” Jeff Schram said. “It just seemed strange to think of all the other hunter ed teams in the state that we were chosen. It still seems strange.”
Schram, a 60-year-old who has been working at DGR Engineering in Rock Rapids for more than 40 years, started teaching the hunter education course 19 years ago.
To be an instructor, individuals must pass the hunter education course unless they were born before 1972. Then individuals take a daylong course hosted by the recreational safety department. For N’West Iowa, Eby is the instructor of that course.
Darrell Reifenrath, a friend of Schram’s, was an instructor and got him started in part because the other instructors were getting older. Schram took over as the lead instructor after Reifenrath retired.
“He moved to Spearfish, SD, so that kind of dropped the lead instructor thing on my lap,” Schram said. “Then I started recruiting other people to help me and we’ve got a pretty good crew.”
Schram said all the members of his team have their own area of expertise. He teaches the muzzleloader and bow hunting aspect of the course. Veon is a Scoutmaster, so he teaches first aid. Laureen Schram, a teacher at Central Lyon Elementary, helps the students, mostly youths, understand the tests.
“She helps them and they all kind of like that because, being local, most of those kids have had her as a teacher,” Jeff Schram said. “They seem to be calmer and more alert when they recognize somebody they know. They don’t seem to be so scared of what’s going on, but it’s a pretty easy course if they pay attention.”
People as young as 11 can take the course, but the certificate they receive for passing is not good until they turn 12.
Schram said the biggest change he has seen in his time teaching hunter education is that the course can be taken online. It still is an eight-hour course online, but students do not have to do all eight hours at once.
“It seems like the kids taking it online, they seem to retain things so much better,” Schram said. “The test scores went up. For us, it’s the way to do it.”
Schram has even taught the course to family members. He taught the course to Laureen.
“That was interesting teaching my wife,” he said. “She knew pretty much all this stuff anyway because she’s seen me doing this for years.”
Schram also taught his 13-year-old grandson Jake Nagel.
“He’s my hunting and fishing buddy,” Schram said. “He’s good at it, especially fishing. He out fishes grandpa a lot.”
Schram encouraged anyone interested in teaching hunter education to get involved.
“It’s very rewarding to share your knowledge of things with these children,” he said. “A lot of them start when they are 11 and they take the course. Anywhere from 11 all the way through adults we’ll have. It’s a lot of fun showing this to kids, but trying to keep them safe is the main thing.”