Not every instructor in existing programs will meet the needs of your food-motivated, new, adult program. By the same token, the perfect instructor may not exist.
However, selecting (screening) instructors that have the best combination of attributes that you are seeking will go a long way toward finding the “right” instructors. Recommended selection criteria include:
- Instructors that mirror your target audiences’ demographics as closely as possible. If possible, select instructors in the same age group, gender, ethnicity, and food interest as your target audience.
- Instructors that are willing to use innovative instructional techniques rather than just lecture and demonstration.
- Instructors that have high levels of communications skills, confidence, and will be committed to instructing a unique audience rather than presenting a lecture from some previous program.
- Instructors that have demonstrated experience working with adults or people from different cultures.
- Instructors that participants can relate to and identify with. In addition, having instructors that are open and inviting to encourage participants’ interactions is critical.
- Instructors that are “authentic” in that they are passionate about hunting and the animals they hunt and the places where they hunt.
In addition, background checks should be conducted on each instructor. In situations where instructors, guides and mentors are recruited from existing programs, additional background checks may not be necessary because they have already been conducted by the original organization. Basic background checks of “game violations” and criminal proceedings can normally be arranged by your agency's law enforcement section. More in-depth background checks may need to be contracted out to a third party.
In many situations, instructors may be brought in for a specific classroom-based topic or session. Screening these instructors for the above-mentioned traits may not be as critical as screening instructors, guides or mentors that will have longer-term contact with participants.
Guides and mentors are a special case of instructors that will accompany participants during their hunting experience. This is a very special event for most participants, so extra care should be taken to match participants to guides or mentors. Guides or mentors who will be spending time alone with their participants should receive specific instruction on sexual harassment. See the Instructor Training section for more information on recommended training for instructors.
In all situations, program managers should schedule time to go over program goals and objectives, as well as expectations and specific roles with each instructor.
For additional information on screening instructors, guides and mentors see the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Best Practices Workbook for Hunting and Shooting Recruitment and Retention, and Appendix C of the National Hunting & Shooting Sports Action Plan.