Hunting and Fishing Mentorship Program Update

Made possible by a $10,000 grant from Patagonia, The Center for Jackson Hole created the 2018 Emerging Leaders Fellowship Fund to support projects by Emerging Leaders Program alumni that address issues of importance to their communities.

The inaugural Fund recipients, 2017 Emerging Leaders Program alumni Mateen Hessami and Jess Johnson, were awarded $10,000 for their Hunting and Fishing Mentorship Program proposal, which will recruit twenty highly motivated university students, with an emphasis on women, and immerse them in a year-long conservation and subsistence development program. Participants will learn every aspect of becoming an independent, public-land subsistence consumer and conservation activist.

Here is the first of four progress reports from the grantees. Moving forward, the Fund, which represents The Center for Jackson Hole’s desire to share its collective-impact model nationally while simultaneously contributing to the professional development of ELP alumni, will be renamed The SHIFTx Fellowship Fund.


Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and Artemis Sportswomen are excited to partner with The Center for Jackson Hole to implement a one-year Hunting and Fishing Mentorship Program geared towards collegiate students interested in learning the technical and advocacy aspects of hunting and fishing.

This year-long public land based program will specifically target new female hunters & anglers who have an identified desire to acquire the skills necessary to be independent subsistence providers and conservation activists. This program is made possible by the 2018 Emerging Leaders Fellowship fund and Patagonia. We are proud to partner with these organizations and look forward to the successful impact this project will carry.

Our Hunting and Fishing Mentorship program can be broken down into three major parts. First, at the Hunting for Sustainability weekend at the Rocky Mountain Front (September 2018), students will spend a weekend covering topics ranging from hunting ethics and game management to firearms safety and field dressing techniques. Participants will leave with the skills and knowledge to get started hunting —and a better appreciation of the public lands system and the role hunters play in conservation.

The follow-up component will be the application to Hunting for Sustainability—where students can (with luck) connect with their first animal. Students will be paired with an experienced mentor for these two weekends. This will take place in November 2018 on public land outside of Phillipsburg, MT.

The second component to this project includes a volunteer service day in partnership with USFWS where students will spend one or two days assisting with a habitat-focused enhancement project that pertains to improving public land access and hunting opportunity. Next, students will spend a day learning how to advocate for public lands and waters.

Jess Johnson will lead this component, in which students will be exposed to the world of policy of public lands and the rights of hunters and anglers. This second component of our project, which is still in development, is planned for Winter 2019.

In Spring 2019, we will conclude our program with Fishing for Sustainability. This will be modeled on Hunting For Sustainability and will focus on engaging new and novice anglers while promoting conservation-minded angling. This program will help participants overcome the barriers of entry to fishing and offer information on access to public waters, conservation and management – all while fishing for local, wild meat in an ethical and responsible manner.

Finally, this grant will provide assistance to help beginning hunters and anglers overcome major financial barriers—specifically license fees. We will award four scholarships to students who have current federal financial aid standing and will cover their in-state or out of state hunting and fishing licenses. We believe this element to our program is crucial, as the primary roadblock for new sportsmen or women is fiscal investment. We will also have an inventory of specialized equipment for students to borrow.

This summer we are focusing on recruiting a primarily female cohort of college students from the University of Montana and Montana State University. Students will go through a simple application process, allowing us to select highly motivated students who are relatively new and keen to hunting and fishing.

The grant provided by the 2018 Emerging Leaders Fund and Patagonia will be instrumental is implementing a successful and replicable model of outdoor education.

We believe there is no better steward of our public lands than ethical hunters and anglers. Stay tuned as we share the development of this program throughout the next year.

~Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Artemis Sportswomen

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