If ever you meet Thad Bellow you’ll remember his smile.
You feel his firm handshake, then notice the sincerity in his eyes.
There’s sincerity in his voice.
But that’s not what you see first.
First, you see a wheelchair, and you wonder how this man, confined as he has been most of his life, could muster the energy he’s shared with those around him.
And, for the past 20 or so years, there have been a lot of “those” around him, thousands who’ve benefited from his knowledge and expertise handling firearms — and he’s a pretty darned good fisherman, too.
This dyed-in-the-wool Ascension Parish outdoorsman was honored for those years he’s dedicated to our state’s Hunter Education Program during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission monthly meeting in Baton Rouge.
Bellow was selected from among the near 1,000 state-certified hunter education volunteers to receive the Todd Roberts Achievement Award for 2020-2021.
According to state Wildlife and Fisheries program manager Eric Shanks, Bellow has conducted more than 100 multiday hunter's ed classes — that’s more than 1,200 hours — involving near 5,000 young and old prospective hunters seeking certificates allowing them to hunt in Louisiana and other states.
There’s more. Bellow works hand-in-hand with the Ascension Parish 4-H shooting sports teams as a coach, instructor and mentor with the youngsters competing in shotgun, rifle, pistol and archery competitions on state, regional and national levels.
“Thad is an inspiration and can serve as a great example of determination and passion not just to volunteer instructors, but to all of us,’’ Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Jack Montoucet said while presenting Bellow to the commission. “For his longtime and significant contributions to LDWF, his hunting community and the sportsmen of Louisiana, I am so pleased to recognize him for the Todd Roberts Achievement Award.’’
The LDWF also recognized others for their long-standing dedication to the Hunter Ed Program, to include Jerry Doucet (40 years); Carrol Marks (35 years); Jim Richardson, Roger Crawley, Paul Trosclair, Harold Rideau and David Carlino (30 years); and, Anthony Smith and Chad Dorsett (25 years).