The backbone of Idaho's hunter education training effort rests on volunteer instructors, who give their time, passion and energy to the program. Since 1991, the Idaho Hunter Education program has recognized an instructor who has continually made a significant contribution to the program. The recipient of the State Instructor of the Year Award is one who is known for teaching students to be safe, responsible, ethical hunters and enthusiastically promoting the subject to encourage students to appreciate the importance of their own safety, the safety of others, and the continuation of the hunting tradition.
In 2021, the honor went to the Southwest Region’s own rockstar husband and wife instructor team, Blue Childers and her late husband, Charley, who demonstrated unparalleled dedication to the program and their students during two of the most challenging years for Hunter Education in recent memory.
Shortly after becoming instructors in 2017, Charley and Blue became mainstays in the Southwest Region’s Hunter Education Program, teaching more courses and certifying more students than many instructors do over the course of multiple years. For that, the pair were named regional Rookie Instructors of the Year. Blue and Charley didn’t let off the throttle in the years that followed, either. Over five years as an instructor team, Blue and Charley taught a total of 101 classes, certifying 1,429 students. They taught 25 classes and certified more than 300 students in 2021 alone.
From the moment they became instructors, Blue and Charley were continuously willing to step up to assist the Hunter Education program wherever there was a need. There was perhaps no greater need than in 2021, during the height of the COVID pandemic. With no online option for Trapper Education, and high demand for certification during the pandemic, there was a tremendous need for in-person Trapper Ed courses. Blue and Charley were on a short list of instructors who were able to continue teaching in 2021, and despite not being trappers themselves, they were eager to step up to the plate.
The pair were certified as Trapper Education instructors and before long, they became the Trapper Education instructors in the Southwest Region. Absent the Childers’s willingness to navigate ever-changing COVID protocols in the classroom, the region’s capacity to certify new trappers would have been almost nonexistent. During 2021, 23 Trapper Education classes were taught in the Southwest Region; Charley and Blue taught 19 of them, averaging 1.5 Trapper Education courses per month and certifying 278 new trappers.
“It’s fair to say that Blue and Charley almost single-handedly kept our Trapper Education program going in 2021,” said Brian Pearson, Regional Communications Manager. “When it comes to earning the title of ‘Idaho Hunter Education Instructor of the Year,’ I can’t think of another instructor team more deserving than the Childers.”
As readers might have gathered from the opening couple paragraphs of this article, the world lost Charley Childers in late 2021, and Blue — his co-instructor, best friend, and the love of his life — was unable to share this honor with him during the Southwest Region’s Instructor Awards Banquet in August.
Our Hunter Education program sorely misses Charley’s dedication and passion for instilling the hunting and trapping ethos within the next generation of Idahoans; future Hunter Education students will miss out on the personal anecdotes that Charley used in class to bring the coursework to life — that in his co-instructor’s mind (at the time) might have occasionally run a little long, but always drew rave reviews from parents and students; other instructors will miss the support Charley was more than willing to provide to make them successful — helping to promote classes on social media, posting them to his exhaustive list of every community Facebook page west of Mountain Home and east of the Oregon border.
It goes without saying that most of all, he is missed by Blue, who has continued to give of herself countless hours to the Southwest Region’s Hunter Education program, even in his absence.
In Charley’s honor, the Southwest Region has renamed its Rookie of the Year Award the Charley Childers Rookie of the Year Award — and while we know this gesture could never soften the loss of Charley, we hope that it may inspire the next generation of Hunter Education instructors to strive for the standard he and Blue have set.
Congratulations to Idaho’s State Instructors of the Year, Blue and Charley Childers.