Oklahoma Hunter Education Program recognized by regional peers

ODWC’s Lance Meek given 2021 SEAFWA Directors’ Special Recognition Award

The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) bestowed a Special Recognition Award upon Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Senior Communication and Education Specialist Lance Meek during their 75th annual meeting, held Oct. 17-20 in Roanoke, Virginia. Meek was recognized for leading ODWC’s innovations in hunter education.

“Lance Meek has proven to be a passionate and tireless advocate for providing the best possible education opportunities for hunters,” SEAFWA President Paul Johansen said. “Over his two decades of service, no other state in the nation has implemented as many progressive changes as Oklahoma. As hunters’ needs change and as technology evolves, Lance has championed bold steps to improve the customer experience, save money and, most importantly, keep hunters safe.”

Oklahoma was one of a few key states that helped develop the first national online hunter’s education study in 2000. Additionally, under Lance’s leadership Oklahoma reduced the course length from 10 hours to 8 hours in 2005, giving greater options for both the conservation officers teaching the class and the students taking it.

Meek was also an early adopter to the apprentice license model. Oklahoma was the second state to offer apprentice license in 2007 and is still the only state to offer it for free. ODWC also removed all age restrictions on the apprentice licenses, so parents have greater ability to decide when individual children are ready to hunt.

“Lance’s contributions to the agency and to conservation in Oklahoma reach far beyond the hunter education program,” ODWC Director J. D. Strong explained. “His innovative and creative thinking have made Oklahoma a leader in hunter education while providing cost savings and matching funds that have translated into greater support for the archery in the schools program, shooting ranges, and habitat management on public lands throughout the state.”

SEAFWA’s special recognition awards are bestowed upon individuals, groups, or programs who, in the state agency directors’ opinions, have served the association and made outstanding contributions toward wildlife and fisheries conservation, outdoor recreational engagement, and the natural resources professional community.