Kelsey Gerchar – a NASP® graduate, now serves as her state’s Archery Education Coordinator with the Arizona Game & Fish Department. We caught up with Kelsey and asked her a few questions.
When did you first participate in NASP® as a student, and in what grades?
“It was in 2007 when I was a freshman in high school.”
What were your thoughts about NASP® and archery?
“I was excited to learn about archery because my dad was a bowhunter and that meant I’d get to go out hunting with him. I used to go with him anyway, but now it meant I could potentially hunt as well.”
What are any take-aways that NASP® gave you toward your future?
“Because of NASP® I knew I wanted to hunt and not just bowhunt with my family. Later when I was in college and my dad started coaching at my former high school I knew I wanted to help him teach new high schoolers the same way I had been taught.”
When did you know you wanted to make a career from your interest in archery or the outdoors?
“I never really knew, it more so just fell into my lap and worked out. As a college student getting ready to graduate and helping coach my alma mater, I thought I was going down the biology and marine biology path. But when that didn’t work out a new door opened and I took the chance to become the assistant archery education coordinator with Arizona Game & Fish. From there I thought that could be a stepping-stone into the Department and it has been, but again surprising me from what I had planned. I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast. My parents first took me camping when I was 6 weeks old and as mentioned above I was always going out with my dad when he went hunting. So I knew very early on I wanted a career in the outdoors, but I’ve taken several detours from the path I had originally set.”
What is your current position, and what do you do in that position?
“I am the Archery Education Coordinator for the Arizona Game & Fish Department. I manage over 100 schools in Arizona with the NASP® program, manage almost 30 Community Archery Programs, manage an archery loaner program, train new instructors monthly, host 4-5 tournaments and 3D tournaments for the AZ NASP® schools, along with several other duties.”
What is it like being a former NASP® student, and now the AZ Coordinator?
“It’s an amazing feeling knowing I learned the same material the kids today are learning and the fact that I get to be a part of that still is incredible. I won’t lie, we just had out 10th annual state tournament in 2017 and I did get a bit choked up because I was one of the 73 students in the first AZ state tournament and now we have over 400 participants -just overall, its an amazing experience and feeling.”
What advice do you have for students that are in NASP® and may want to think about a career in Archery, Conservation, or the outdoor industry?
“Get into it as early as you can. If your state has an annual fair or expo (like us), go and start talking to people and make connections. Volunteer for any conservation activity or archery or industry activity you can find. It would also be good to get to know your archery state coordinator, they have many, many references and can help you get connected with someone in the field you want to be in.”
Do you have any additional advice to all the NASP® shooters out there?
“Keep shooting! Always make time for yourself to go out and shoot.”