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Outdoors: Program promotes local outdoor recreation opportunities

Sgt. 1st Class Brian Brenner, NCOA, John Clancy, ODR program manager, and Sgt. Brandon Noel, NCOA S-4, discuss the Outdoorsman Mentorship Program at the boat dock in front of Fort Rucker’s Outdoor Recreation at Lake Tholocco last year. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Sgt. 1st Class Brian Brenner, NCOA, John Clancy, ODR program manager, and Sgt. Brandon Noel, NCOA S-4, discuss the Outdoorsman Mentorship Program at the boat dock in front of Fort Rucker’s Outdoor Recreation at Lake Tholocco last year. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: January 8, 2015

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 8, 2015) -- With a new year comes new experiences, and while trying new things can be daunting to some people, one Soldier-made program is looking to offer a helping hand to those interested in all things outdoors.

No one knows the stress of moving from location to location more than a Soldier or military family member, but one Soldier is trying to make a difference and offer solace through outdoor recreation.

The Outdoorsman Mentorship Program, thought up by Sgt. Brandon Noel, NCO Academy S-4, is a way for Soldiers, civilians and anyone interested in the great outdoors to learn what is available locally, how to best get out there and get advice from experienced outdoorsmen.

The program is a great way for people to learn about outdoor recreation from fishing, hunting camping and so forth, said Noel, adding that laws regarding outdoor recreation differ from state-to-state and even county-to-county, so it’s important to have someone to be able to ask questions of when new to the area.

“This is not just a program for people who are experienced with hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation, but primarily for those who are novices, like myself,” said the supply NCO. “Coming from my own experience, moving from base to base, you come to a new base, you don’t know the area, so it’s good to have someone teach you about the local regulations.”

During his time as a new Soldier to Fort Rucker, Noel said he wished he could have had someone to offer him advice on good hunting habits.

“I think I would have really enjoyed having someone show me some good hunting practices, good conservation practices, what kind of dangers to look out for and just other basic stuff that I might not learn from just an online hunter course,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to pick up on lessons learned from more experienced outdoorsman. Not just about what regulations and laws are, but what type of fishing lures are better, what type of rifle you need for deer hunting or what is the best fishing spot.”

The Outdoorsman Mentorship Program is also a good chance to show Soldiers that there is plenty for them to experience on the installation.

“A lot of times, (Soldiers) find themselves stuck in the barracks all weekend, and a lot of them tend to think that there’s just nothing here to do,” he continued. “But there is so much for people to experience. If we’re able to get people out and about, then we’ll really improve the quality of life for a lot of Soldiers.”

The program is not only designed for hunting and fishing. It is also directed at those interested in watersports, such as boating, kayaking, canoeing and more, he said.

“There are certain boating laws people must follow and this is a good opportunity for them to learn exactly what they are,” he said. “I see people with canoes and kayaks on the backs of their trucks all the time. Fort Rucker has some of the best spots to use that equipment.”

People operating boats must first complete the boater safety course before taking to Fort Rucker’s waterways. To take the course online, visit

Currently, the program is open to the public and Noel encourages people from the local communities to take advantage of the program.

“I want local people involved because there are spots off post that people hunt, fish and do many other outdoor activities,” he said, “so this would be a good chance for them to learn something.”

Noel said he wanted to offer something like this for the local population because growing up he was very active in Boy Scouts and the outdoors, so he wanted to share his experiences with people in a way that they could learn how to safely enjoy the activities.

“It’s always good to have a mentor and be able to learn from someone who’s been there before,” he said. “That way you don’t bite off more than you can chew. This can help so that people don’t get themselves hurt, lost or in trouble of any kind.”

To sign up for the mentorship program, visit outdoor recreation to fill out a mentor request form. People can also volunteer to become mentors – they just need to fill out a mentor sign-up sheet.

For more information, call 255-4305.

This article was originally published at

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