When Dick Groff was selected for a prestigious lifetime achievement award in February 2019, other members of the Cordova Hunter Information and Training Program (HIT) waited for a fitting occasion to present it to him. That moment arrived on Monday, Feb. 17, when Groff was presented with an award plaque at a HIT Program training at Mt. Eccles Elementary School.
Groff received the HIT Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his work teaching firearm safety and survival skills with the Cordova HIT Program, which he co-founded. Groff is the seventh person to receive this award since it was created in 2011.
“He and his co-instructors have always gone above in beyond to make sure the community’s needs are met,” said Ginamaria Smith, Alaska HIT Program coordinator. “It’s not just a class — it’s something that students take into their lives.”
While many hunting safety courses have been reduced to a day or two of online study and a single day of field training, Groff gives students as much practical experience as possible, said Charlotte Westing, HIT Program instructor and Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist. The Cordova HIT Program course currently takes place over nine days.
“He feels passionate that kids get outside and get lots of hands-on experience,” Westing said. “Whether it’s firearm safety or just not freezing to death, he wants to empower them to enjoy the outdoors.”
Groff has a natural ability to work with both beginners and advanced students, said Danielle Verna, HIT Program instructor and Cordova Trap and Gun Club board member.
Groff is also deputy fire chief for the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department.