Jordan Hammersley has made his living outdoors.
And he’s anxious to spread his love of nature and wildlife to the youth of southern Illinois.
Hammersley is the new skeet shooting coach and Outdoor Wildlife Management program instructor for Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg. He was also the guest speaker for the Carmi Kiwanis Club on Thursday, July 18.
A native of nearby Eldorado (who actually grew up on the same road in which SIC’s main campus is located), Hammersley spent the last 13 years traveling the world as an outfitting guide, starting out here in southern Illinois before moving to Colorado, Alaska and eventually to Africa. He started his career working as a wildlife biologist, with a focus on endangered species research.
But he has recently accepted a position with SIC to coach the “Clay Breakers,” the school’s skeet shooting team, and to head up the OWL (Outdoor Wildlife Management) program. The shooting team will debut this fall, while the OWL program is set to launch in the fall of 2020.
SIC is currently in the process of building a trap range, complete with five lanes and a trap house in front.
“We are one of the only programs that will have scholarships,” said Hammersley. “When I was coming up shooting, it was just a club sport.”
In fact, Hammersley and his brother each won national championships in their younger days, but neither ever received a scholarship, as they just weren’t available at that time.
“This is rare and good for our administration to recognize the sport’s grown by 900,000 youths in the past year,” said Hammersley. “It’s a big deal for SIC to have this program.”
Hammersley said he will have 10 scholarships to offer and added, “I’m way more into academics than I am winning athletic trophies. I’m way more into giving them a college education. I told our administration that and they were on board with that.”
The SIC team will compete in the Southern Illinois Youth Shooting Sports Association, which features schools south of Interstate 70. The organization’s national finals are located in nearby Sparta.
According to Hammersley, SIC will have a co-ed team. He added that skeet shooting is a gender-neutral sport.
“My 12-year-old niece will smash clays just as good as me and her father,” said Hammersley.
Try-outs will be conducted in August. Any SIC student wishing to try out for the team should contact Hammersley by phone at 618-252-5400, ext. 2328, or by e-mail at [email protected]
After discussing the skeet shooting team, Hammersley told the Kiwanians about the OWL program.
“It’s outfitters’ wildlife management,” he said. “This is a program that will teach young men and women to get ready for an outdoor job, like working for the DNR, working as a game warden, or being a fishing or hunting guide.
“…It really doesn’t exist in colleges. There’s one college in Kansas that has a very, very similar program. I’ve talked to their instructor and they have to turn kids away. They have a long waiting list. We’re hoping we’ll draw a lot of outsiders in to southern Illinois.”
According to Hammersley, some of the courses to be included in the program will include wildlife business basics, hunting safety, bow hunting safety, firearm safety and guiding in the outdoors. He said he won’t have any classes with more than 30 students.
“We’re going to do a lot of hands-on stuff in this program and I think it’s going to be super popular,” said Hammersley.
There will also be internships available.
In club business, Lawrence Martin won the 50/50 drawing, but failed to pick the orange golf ball, so the pot will roll over next week. Keith Hoskins won the weekly $10 gas card donated by Huck’s. Guests of the club were Chris Pfister of First Bank and Lacey Harms of Ferrell Hospital.