Stu Kenewell (left) Receiving the MUCC Special Conservation Award for 2018. Presented by Former MUCC President and CRG member Russ Reister (Right)

It was an Honor to attend this year’s MUCC Conservation Awards Banquet on June 23rd 2018, where my father Stuart Kenewell was recognized with a special Conservation award. It was a delightful surprise, but a well-deserved one! Stu Kenewell has served for 34 years as a DNR certified hunter safety instructor. Has also been certified by the NRA as a Range Safety Officer and a Home firearms safety instructor. He has also served in the distinguished line of presidents for the Chelsea Rod and Gun club and was key in the creation of the 3D Archery, and public Trap shooting events enjoyed now for many years by outdoor sporting enthusiasts in the local communities. He has also volunteered as an instructor at MUCC programs such as Outdoorama. And helped out with other affiliated organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.

Yes – I am proud indeed to be his Son and follow his example, but I’ll never be able to fill his shoes I think. He did all this while also working full-time and raising our family. How has he managed to do all of it? Passion and dedication in the education of our youth in hunting and firearm safety! I am grateful that he instilled the same passion and dedication in me. I have been a certified instructor now for 15 years and part of his team.

(Note: during the ceremony I took some photos and videos of the presentation, but unfortunately due to technical issues with my video camera, only Audio was recorded. I will revise this story with a photo if I can obtain one from the MUCC photographer.)

The official transcript of the MUCC Conservation Award presentation:

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is pleased to recognize Mr. Stuart “Stu” Kenewell for his outstanding service to the Chelsea Rod and Club and his decades long service to Michigan’s hunter safety program.

Through his service to our country as a Marine, Stu views the safe handling of firearms as not only the essential base for developing and mentoring future ethical hunters, but as assurance of our 2nd amendment rights. In his career as a safety instructor, he has instilled this belief in over 3,000 young people whom he has certified [while serving] as an instructor. While it is popular now to talk about hunter Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation [“R3”], Stu and all of our hunter safety instructors have been practicing R3 for decades. Stu has been responsible for the expansion of Chelsea Rod and Gun’s connection with local schools as well as by partnering with the Chelsea Area and the Stockbridge School districts to make hunter safety available to their students and the surrounding communities. He has secured the donation of firearms for use in the hunter’s safety program through a donation from Whitetails Unlimited and is the builder of much of Chelsea’s walk-thru archery course and other range facilities.

Russ Reister, a former MUCC President and longtime member of the Chelsea Rod and Gun club, who presented the award adds:

“Allow me to digress from this formal presentation to make a few personal observations about our club and Stu.

I joined the [Chelsea Rod and Gun] club in 1991 when I retired and moved to Chelsea. They did not allow the left-wing liberals from Ann Arbor to join at that time. At the beginning of each meeting we rise for the Pledge of Allegiance. At the conclusion we will hear a rousing “Hoo-rah!” from our resident Marine. No one takes a knee during our pledge.

In addition to his serious work, Stu is also the presenter of our “OFFO” awards. That is, our “Old Farts Factual [Factional] Observation” [note: “Factional” means one-part Factual and one-part Fictional] award presented at the conclusion of each meeting. I have been the butt of many of these. Stu could put some of our late night comedians to shame.

Stu’s son Phil also reflects his father’s dedication to conservation. He is our club’s webmaster and is a principle instructor in our hunter safety classes.”

In addition to mentoring thousands of youths in their hunter education, Stu has also sheparded in new generations of hunter safety instructors who have learned his same serious, but fun, approach to teaching ethics and the responsibility of being a safe hunter. Somehow in his spare time, Stu has also served as Past President of the Chelsea Rod and Gun club. Our outdoor family is made up of men and women dedicated to the perpetuation of these traditions through a commitment to youth education, and few people embody that more than Stu Kenewell. MUCC is pleased to recognize Stu with a Special Conservation Award for his service to conservation, youth education and the Chelsea Rod and Gun club.

Stu responded with a short speech starting with an example of one of his OFFO reports:

He’s flattered this old Marine far too much, but I have to correct him [Russ], it’s “Old Farts Factional Observations”; that’s “Part Fact, Part Fiction” and one of the most recent is how I learned to get along better with my wife after my retirement recently.  It seems that we were – arguing a little bit and uh, I was in the doghouse a lot. So I got some really good advice from and old friend. He said “you’ll have to do what my Dad taught me. When she starts to get mad at you, take a big gulp of water and swish it around in your mouth for quite awhile, and if she’ still made, take another big gulp of water and swish it around in your mouth for quite some time.” I saw him a couple weeks later and he said “Hey, so how did that work out for you?” and I said “Wow – That really works! I don’t understand what the water is doing, but it really works good!” He says “Ya big dope! It keeps your mouth Shut!” …So That’s an Old Farts Factional Observation.

I – I am humbled by this award. I was recruited into the Chelsea Rod and Gun club many years ago. I was [recruited] by one of the more prominent members and that was George Carter, a very prominent individual from the U of M and it grew from that point; he talked me into doing lots of stuff, and one of them was the hunter safety program.  Fortunately I have had a wonderful cadre of instructors that have been available to me – 12 of them [in] total – that have been available to teach these classes; we teach 4 to 5 a year and it goes very smoothly because we’re never shorthanded. We always have enough people there, and all the help I receive from them make it possible to do what I do. I have come up with some innovative ideas over the years and it’s worked out well for us – and I have to say that the Chelsea Rod and Gun Club hunter education program is one of the finest in the state. I am proud of that and I’m proud of the instructors, and I have to give a lot of credit to my bride of 50 years, as she has put up with this for a long time. It’s an entire weekend at a time; it’s all day Saturday and all day Sunday, and she even takes the time out of her busy schedule to go over to the Rod and Gun club when I am setting up for a class, and helps me setup hairs and tables; getting everything just right. And – She alone knows the order of the paperwork that is at each seat – the way is has to be – so I am grateful to her. I am grateful to the MUCC for this recognition and I have to say – Thank you very much.

  • Story by Phil Kenewell