2021 Virtual R3 Forum

The 2021 Virtual R3 Forum provided an opportunity for R3 professionals to connect virtually to share updates. This event covered data surrounding participation increases and demographic shifts over the past year and engaged national R3 efforts in "Keeping the COVID Cohort." The Virtual R3 Forum took place on May 5th, 2021 with 325 attendees representing over 130 organizations. The recordings of the sessions can be found below.


J.D. Strong - Director, OK Department of Wildlife Conservation; Chair, Council Board of Directors


Since inception in 2009, the Council has remained dedicated to our mission to “Facilitate the promotion and growth of hunting and the shooting sports and the education of the public on the contributions that hunters and shooters make towards wildlife conservation.” We provided an overview of the to-date impact of the Council, introduced new staff, discussed the future direction of the organization, and highlighted a license policy initiative. 

Dr. Steven Leath - Executive Director, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Swanny Evans - Manager of Partnerships, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dr. Joshua Millspaugh – B&C Professor of Wildlife Conservation, University of Montana



THE COVID COHORT – A holistic view of participation 

With increases across the board creating what we might loosely term as the “COVID Cohort” the question now becomes how do we keep participants engaged. We kicked off the meeting with a comprehensive overview of the recent trends in participation and demographic changes to set the stage for the following sessions. 

Stephanie Maez - Managing Director, Outdoor Foundation
Stephanie Hussey - State R3 Program Director, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation
Nephi Cole - Director of Government Relations State Affairs, National Shooting Sports Foundation
Swanny Evans - Manager of Partnerships, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports



ENGAGING NEW PARTNERS – Time to break out of the silo 

Alongside participation numbers and demographic shifts, we have seen many newer organizations/initiatives experience substantial growth. Reaching out to develop partnerships in a changing landscape will be crucial to keeping The COVID Cohort. This session provided a platform for a few of these organizations/initiatives to provide an overview of their mission, the growth they have experienced, and identify how the R3 community can partner with them moving forward.

Jimmy Flatt – Founder & Programs Coordinator, Hunters of Color
Ashley Chance - Southeast Coordinator, Artemis Sportswomen
Stephanie Maez - Managing Director, Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Community
Philip Smith - President & Founder, National African American Gun Association




With the overwhelming majority of Americans using the internet on a daily basis, online learning and certification in the R3 space has been steadily increasing and saw a surge in demand with COVID. This session highlighted the demonstrated increase in demand, potential merits of going online, and the future possibilities.

Alex Baer - Executive Director, International Hunter Education Association
Greg Gulliver - Vice President of Agency Relations, Kalkomey
Ben Berka - President & Executive Director, Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation



ADAPTING TO THEIR NEEDS – Shooting sports considerations 

As we experience positive trends associated with participation and demographics, there emerges the need to up our capacity and adapt to new audiences’ needs. This session focused on considerations to take into account when looking at the substantial increases in shooting sports participants, how state agencies can adapt, and highlighted a foundation that may be able to help. 

Peter Novotny - Assistant Chief, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife
Scott Reynolds - Executive Director, MidwayUSA Foundation




With the initial proposal deadline fast approaching, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies provided an overview of the R3 Multistate Conservation Grant Program funds including their origin, who is eligible, the priorities, and deadlines.

Silvana Yaroschuk - Program Manager, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
John Lord - Chief Operating Officer, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies


Closed out the 2021 Virtual R3 Forum and announced what to expect for the in-person National R3 Symposium in 2022.

Swanny Evans - Manager of Partnerships, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports