LUSK – Shooting sports practice on Sunday afternoon, beginner shooting sports on Friday afternoon. Make sure grant is submitted for equipment. Double check on Upton challenge shoot. Find new backstop materials, clean program guns.
The list goes on and on for 4-H shooting sports coaches. The primary shooting sports leader and shooting coach for Niobrara County is no different.
Kenny Jensen stepped up and became the primary leader when the previous leaders were ready to take a step back after their youngest child went to college. With two sons interested in that project area, Jensen wanted to make sure there was a program for them to be in.
4-H Shooting sports requires an additional certification outside of the standard leader requirements. It is a two day training required by the state. Jensen attended the training and then jumped in with both feet.
Unlike many 4-H project areas, the county provides the specialized practice space and all equipment required for the shooters. This means that in addition to holding project meetings leaders must maintain firearms, bow, ammunition and target inventory. Each county is required to send volunteers to the state shooting competition to help run ranges and score targets as well.
Jensen had to learn quickly how to review the shooting sports budget, manage the grants that have been used for equipment and travel, coach and supervise kids and keep parents and kids motivated to participate and continue raising funds for the program.
Niobrara county has a long history of shooting sports and some great traditions but Jensen also wanted to leave his own mark on the program. A primary focus of his has been making sure that kids have fun with the shooting sports project. This means plenty of opportunities for fun shoots and application of the skills that they are learning as target sportsmen.
Jensen continued the annual fun shoot that is used to raise money for the program and he added taking teams to the annual Upton challenge shoot, silhouette shooting days and a day at the outdoor range to try out higher powered firearms than what we shot through the program.
In addition to volunteering with the shooting sports program Jensen is also the area hunter’s safety instructor and tries to hold at least two hunter safety classes a year for those wishing to get their card.
Each year, county 4-H programs can nominate individual volunteers to receive 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards. The awards winners are selected from each of the four regions and then an overall winner is selected for the state. In October 2019, Kelli Chichester nominated Jensen for Volunteer of the Year award which is given to an individual that has volunteered for less than 10 years. Chichester has seen the work that Jensen has done and nominated him for volunteer of the year.
Jensen received a letter notifying him that he is the winner for Niobrara’s region and will be presented with his reward in June at the showcase showdown.