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Soldiers Grove


I was asked how I got started being a safety instructor and I have to blame my oldest son Rob. Rob decided he wanted to take Hunter Safety. It was around January of 1984 and we attended the first class. Mike and Bob Pettit were teaching the class and having known them most of my life, they volunteered me to help teach the classes. Mike and Bob are both excellent instructors who have vast knowledge of firearms, ammunition, archery and much more. I have taught every year since then. My sons Rob and Steve wanted to take ATV safety. There were no instructors in our area, so a chance to become an instructor for ATV came along and I became an instructor. Next thing I know I am an instructor for Hunter Safety, Bow Safety, ATV Safety, Boat Safety and Snowmobile Safety. I though it was important to give the youth the opportunity to enjoy and experience these activities.

When I first started, I didn’t know that when you volunteer there is more than just teaching a class. Last year I retired from Gays Mills First Responders and Ocooch Mountain Rescue after 28 years of being in the emergency medical service. Not only were you on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but you had to attend training, purchase equipment and raise money to keep everything going. Safety classes are the same thing. You always need something for the class, but you never have the money. In the past we had a few organizations that helped us by donating firearms, but lately we have had to purchase firearms and supplies by ourselves.

Bob Johnson and I have been trying to recruit new instructors to take over for us. Bob has also been teaching for over 20 years. We have found a few dedicated individuals that we hope will continue instructing safety classes.

I have always tried to stress to our students that they are responsible, and they need to Respect the environment, Respect the animal they are pursuing, Respect the land owner’s rights and to Respect themselves. Do what is right! We instructors always hope that the few hours we share in class with the students was enough to fire the spark of responsibility and respect, and to do the right thing!

You always hear everyone trying to get people to volunteer. From an old volunteer, I recommend that you try it. You will sacrifice some of your time, but you will receive great rewards in helping others. Who knows, maybe you will save a life and maybe, just maybe, you might have fun.

-Ron Hayden