When Washington’s 850 or so certified hunter education instructors gathered for their annual training update recently in Wenatchee, they had to make a tough choice.
When the votes were tallied, the annual Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearms Safety Award honoring the state’s top instructor for 2014 was given to a Western Washington volunteer.
The runner-up is a distinguished instructor from Spokane.
Many others served selflessly, without payment, to help certify more than 13,600 hunter education graduates last year.
The award and all the emphasis on gun safety honors a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer who was fatally wounded in 1984 by a hunter who accidentally discharged his firearm.
Rick Webber of Snohomish won the 2014 Hoffer award. Although he’s been a certified instructor for six years and taught nine classes in 2014 to certify nearly 500 students, he stood out from other instructors for his commitment.
“Due to a severe medical condition in 2014, Rick couldn’t attend a class, but managed his team with computer and phone to ensure class supplies were available and assignments were covered, so class would not suffer,” said David Whipple, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hunter education coordinator.
Webber has been committed to hunter education in many other ways such as recruiting, certifying and mentoring new instructors, Whipple said.
Many instructors are stands for longevity. The 2013 Hoffer award winner had been teaching hunter education for more than 30 years.
Keith Towbridge of Spokane is the runner-up for the 2014 Hoffer award primarily for his effort to coordinate the growing public interest in taking hunter education online.
“Volunteer instructors and their families give so much to the hunting heritage in Washington,” Whipple said. “This year we especially recognize Rick Webber and Keith Trowbridge. Their accomplishments are exemplary.”
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