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Itasca Instructor is Extreme Huntress

The following is attributed to the June 29, 2018 Star Tribune article by columnist Dennis Anderson. The full article can be read on the Star Tribune website.

If you’re in northern Minnesota in the coming weeks and see a woman jogging while wearing a down jacket, lugging a 20-pound pack and a carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, wish Meadow Kouffeld good luck.

Kouffeld, 34, is training to compete for the title of “Extreme Huntress” against two women from Europe and one from Washington state. The down jacket Kouffeld wears while exercising is intended to replicate the heat she and the other women will encounter during the weeklong contest near San Antonio, Texas, beginning July 29.

Other than “a lot of running and gunning,” Kouffeld is unsure exactly what to expect, though in past years a biathlon was included among skills tests.

“At times in the biathlon, an AK-47 has been used, or a similar rifle, and at other times it’s been a hunting rifle or a standard biathlon .22,” she said. “So we’ll see.”

Now in its 10th year, the worldwide Extreme Huntress competition is intended to “create positive role models for women who want to participate in hunting and the outdoor lifestyle,” according to organizers. Kouffeld and the other three finalists will be tested for fitness, as well as shooting, tracking and hunting skills.

“I don’t really like the words ‘extreme’ or ‘huntress,’ but I am serious about this competition,” Kouffeld said.

Meadow with rifle

Meadow Kouffeld’s aim is to inspire other women. (Image provided)

A native Californian, Kouffeld came to Minnesota in 2008 to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Ruffed grouse were the subject of her master’s thesis, and after she finished her degree, she worked for the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of natural resources before joining the Ruffed Grouse Society, stationed in Grand Rapids.

“I grew up in Northern California raising and showing chickens,” she said. “My dad was a hunter, and when I was a kid, he and I and my sister hunted a lot of quail and turkeys, as well as deer and other big game. We also hunted blue grouse, and I even shot a red-phase ruffed grouse once in California. I guess I’ve always been attracted to birds. So when I had a chance to come to Minnesota and study ruffed grouse, I took it.”

Kouffeld left the grouse group in January, in part to spend more time with her 5-year-old daughter. Now she teaches forest ecology, wildlife ecology and management, and dendrology (the study of trees) at Itasca Community College. She also coordinates that school’s annual Wildfire Academy, which draws about 700 firefighters from throughout Minnesota and beyond.

“I’ve been aware of the ‘Extreme Huntress’ competition since it started, and I entered it once previously,” Kouffeld said. “My sister in California also has entered. Neither of us made the finals on those attempts. But now that I have, I’m working hard to prepare. Promoting women in the outdoors is important to me, and this competition provides a platform to showcase our abilities.”

Among the contest’s first requirements, Kouffeld and the other women must attach and successfully align scopes to the rifles they’ll use daily during the competition. Then, during morning and evening outings on a 10,000-acre Texas ranch, they’ll hunt specific exotic big game animals, accompanied into the field by a hunting partner, a judge and a videographer. (The competition will be filmed for later airing.)

Between hunts, various skills tests will pit the women against one another.

“There will be shotgun challenges and rifle challenges, as well as pistol shooting and possibly archery,” Kouffeld said. “You don’t know what the requirements will be ahead of time. I shoot lefthanded, so AKs and rifles, if they’re made for righthanded shooters, can be a bit of a challenge for me. For that reason, I’m hoping for more shotgun competitions.”

The women likely also will be required to speak extemporaneously about wildlife conservation. Defending hunting’s role in wildlife management might also be required, possibly while being heckled by actors or others portraying themselves as anti-hunters.

Kouffeld is highly regarded in Minnesota wildlife management circles as a conservationist and hunter, and people who know her believe she can handle any situation she encounters.

Yet the heat worries her. She ran track in high school. But her knees aren’t 100 percent.

“In some past ‘Extreme Huntress’ contests, the four finalist women were asked to run multiple miles, and in other years, just one mile,” she said. “So we’ll see.”

Kouffeld was hunting in South Africa with her sister, Maggi, a captain with CAL FIRE, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, when she found out she had been named an “Extreme Huntress” semifinalist. Initial scoring was done online by viewers who watched videos of the women explain why they hunted, and why the competition appealed to them. Entrants also submitted essays to a panel of judges explaining the importance of hunting and an outdoors lifestyle.

A dog owner (Deutsch Drahthaars and English setters) who regularly pursues grouse and woodcock in Minnesota’s North Woods in the fall, Kouffeld also embraces adventure far from home. Two years ago, she accompanied her sister to Kyrgyzstan, along China’s western border, to hunt ibex.

“It was incredible,” she said. “At times we were only 100 yards from China. The people were great to us, and in that respect, it was the exact opposite of what I anticipated. But conditions were tough, especially when we were camped between 10,000 feet and 15,000 feet, with a stiff wind and a temperature of 22 below zero.”

Kouffeld doesn’t worry about being cold while exercising daily in and near Grand Rapids wearing a down jacket and toting a pack and shotgun. Fitness is her only concern. And at 5 feet 6 inches tall and 149 pounds, she said she’s about in the condition she wants to be.

Yet unlike the two European women finalists — one from Sweden, the other from Slovakia — Kouffeld has had only minimal corporate support. Vortex Optics has helped. The Grand Rapids shooting community is planning a fun shoot in July to kick in some money. But otherwise she’s depended on a gofundme.com effort to help cover her expenses. (To contribute, go to bit.ly/kouff.)

Winner of the competition will be announced at a Dallas Safari Club black tie dinner in January. A trophy is awarded. And the title of “Extreme Huntress.” But no money.

A native Californian, Kouffeld came to Minnesota in 2008 to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Ruffed grouse were the subject of her master’s thesis, and after she finished her degree, she worked for the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of natural resources before joining the Ruffed Grouse Society, stationed in Grand Rapids.

“I grew up in Northern California raising and showing chickens,” she said. “My dad was a hunter, and when I was a kid, he and I and my sister hunted a lot of quail and turkeys, as well as deer and other big game. We also hunted blue grouse, and I even shot a red-phase ruffed grouse once in California. I guess I’ve always been attracted to birds. So when I had a chance to come to Minnesota and study ruffed grouse, I took it.”

Kouffeld left the grouse group in January, in part to spend more time with her 5-year-old daughter. Now she teaches forest ecology, wildlife ecology and management, and dendrology (the study of trees) at Itasca Community College. She also coordinates that school’s annual Wildfire Academy, which draws about 700 firefighters from throughout Minnesota and beyond.

“I’ve been aware of the ‘Extreme Huntress’ competition since it started, and I entered it once previously,” Kouffeld said. “My sister in California also has entered. Neither of us made the finals on those attempts. But now that I have, I’m working hard to prepare. Promoting women in the outdoors is important to me, and this competition provides a platform to showcase our abilities.”

Among the contest’s first requirements, Kouffeld and the other women must attach and successfully align scopes to the rifles they’ll use daily during the competition. Then, during morning and evening outings on a 10,000-acre Texas ranch, they’ll hunt specific exotic big game animals, accompanied into the field by a hunting partner, a judge and a videographer. (The competition will be filmed for later airing.)

Between hunts, various skills tests will pit the women against one another.

“There will be shotgun challenges and rifle challenges, as well as pistol shooting and possibly archery,” Kouffeld said. “You don’t know what the requirements will be ahead of time. I shoot lefthanded, so AKs and rifles, if they’re made for righthanded shooters, can be a bit of a challenge for me. For that reason, I’m hoping for more shotgun competitions.”

The women likely also will be required to speak extemporaneously about wildlife conservation. Defending hunting’s role in wildlife management might also be required, possibly while being heckled by actors or others portraying themselves as anti-hunters.

Kouffeld is highly regarded in Minnesota wildlife management circles as a conservationist and hunter, and people who know her believe she can handle any situation she encounters.

Yet the heat worries her. She ran track in high school. But her knees aren’t 100 percent.

“In some past ‘Extreme Huntress’ contests, the four finalist women were asked to run multiple miles, and in other years, just one mile,” she said. “So we’ll see.”

Kouffeld was hunting in South Africa with her sister, Maggi, a captain with CAL FIRE, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, when she found out she had been named an “Extreme Huntress” semifinalist. Initial scoring was done online by viewers who watched videos of the women explain why they hunted, and why the competition appealed to them. Entrants also submitted essays to a panel of judges explaining the importance of hunting and an outdoors lifestyle.

A dog owner (Deutsch Drahthaars and English setters) who regularly pursues grouse and woodcock in Minnesota’s North Woods in the fall, Kouffeld also embraces adventure far from home. Two years ago, she accompanied her sister to Kyrgyzstan, along China’s western border, to hunt ibex.

“It was incredible,” she said. “At times we were only 100 yards from China. The people were great to us, and in that respect, it was the exact opposite of what I anticipated. But conditions were tough, especially when we were camped between 10,000 feet and 15,000 feet, with a stiff wind and a temperature of 22 below zero.”

Kouffeld doesn’t worry about being cold while exercising daily in and near Grand Rapids wearing a down jacket and toting a pack and shotgun. Fitness is her only concern. And at 5 feet 6 inches tall and 149 pounds, she said she’s about in the condition she wants to be.

Yet unlike the two European women finalists — one from Sweden, the other from Slovakia — Kouffeld has had only minimal corporate support. Vortex Optics has helped. The Grand Rapids shooting community is planning a fun shoot in July to kick in some money. But otherwise she’s depended on a gofundme.com effort to help cover her expenses. (To contribute, go to bit.ly/kouff.)

Winner of the competition will be announced at a Dallas Safari Club black tie dinner in January. A trophy is awarded. And the title of “Extreme Huntress.” But no money.

Students Build Off-Road Wheelchair


Baihly Warfield, WDIO
Updated: May 23, 2018 07:13 PM

NASHWAUK, Minn. - At 4 years old, Reed Reuter can find endless adventure in his own backyard.

He loves exploring his family's 10 acres of land with his dad. But unless he is carried, that's been hard to do.

Reed has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, so his body doesn't gain muscle, and he can't walk.


"SMA is a neurological disorder that affects the body's ability to gain muscle," Reed's mom, Brittany Reuter, explained.

Brittany noticed some things weren't progressing as they should when he was still a baby. He was eventually diagnosed with SMA when he was a year and four months.


"When he was diagnosed, the prognosis was that he would progressively get weaker every single day until he was completely atrophied," Brittany explained.


But Reed's body is responding well to a new drug, and the Reuter lifestyle helps with the rest.


"People always ask us, 'How's he so strong?'" Brittany said. "And it's because he doesn't sit still."

Reed likes to go full speed on his power wheelchair and in life. Now, he's got even more momentum, thanks to three engineering angels.


Brittany and Reed went and spoke to an Itasca Community College class about how engineering and technology keep Reed mobile. She also shared about some of the obstacles he still has.

"I thought the end of the project was just us informing the students as guest speakers," Brittany said, "but a few months later, I was contacted by the students, and they had been doing some behind-the-scenes work."

With their professor's permission, Braeden Lawrence, Axel Valeri and Zach Mans tossed out the traditional syllabus and tackled a real-life problem. Braeden said he could relate to Reed's enthusiasm for nature.


"He liked the outdoors," Braeden said. "He liked spending time with his dad outside and other things like that, so we wanted to help him out a little bit."

The three students built a tracks system that is changing Reed's life. His power chair sits on top, held down by four ratchet straps. The tracks plug right in to his wheelchair, so he can control it using the steering already on his chair.


The students 3D printed the plugs with resources at ICC. A few donated parts and some eager outside funding also helped make it possible.


"The college wouldn't fund the entire project, so they needed a little help with that. So they reached out to Kids Kare Fund, and we unanimously as a board approved the application within ... fifteen minutes," Jessie Belle with the Kids Kare Fund said.


Belle and Aubrie Hoover, the vice president, said it was an easy project to embrace.

"At their age, to be like really excited and gung ho is just amazing to see," Hoover said.

"I'm glad to see that it's actually getting used," Braeden said.


Reed also zooms around on a four-wheeler, but his muscle weakness makes him tired. The tracks mean he can play longer.


"This is huge. This opened a huge door for us," Brittany said.

It opened a door to their own backyard.

"See? You need to mow the lawn right there!" Reed shouted to his dad, Cory.

"Why?" Cory asked.

"Because, see all that big grass?" Reed said.


And he now has space for new discoveries, like a bird's nest in his yard and the ability to ride in the water at the beach.


As for what's next for the ICC students, all three of them graduated, and all three are headed for Michigan Tech to continue studying engineering.


You can follow Reed's story on his Facebook page.


Credits:

Baihly Warfield

Updated: May 23, 2018 07:13 PM
Created: May 23, 2018 05:46 PM

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

Trap Shooting Now a Varsity Sport

MCAC Varsity Clay Target League to Debut in Fall, 2018

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference and the USA High School Clay Target League have partnered to pioneer the first varsity Clay Target League for two-year college athletic programs. The MCAC, comprised of over 20 colleges, includes campuses in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

USA High School Clay Target League, based in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, is the nation's largest independent provider of high school clay target shooting sports with nearly 22,000 student athletes representing 804 high school teams in 20 states participating this spring. Minnesota has the highest participation in the League with almost 12,000 student athletes and more than 340 teams.

The fall of 2018 will represent the first varsity season of competition for ten programs in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference. The sponsoring MCAC schools (listed below) will compete in a six-week season, culminating in a season-ending event in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

With the assistance of the USA High School Clay Target League, MCAC teams will compete each week within the league, with all teams competing at their 'home' shooting range and will have the scores tabulated virtually using USA Clay Target's 'True Team Scoring' system. Allowing teams to compete against each other without significant travel costs was a key factor in the ability to take the sport to the varsity level in only it's second year.

Vikings Move Up in National Poll

MCAC Press Release
Apr 18, 2018
Rochester, MN-

The Itasca Community College baseball team continues to inch up in the NJCAA Division III Baseball national rankings. The latest Top Ten poll places the Vikings at #7; up two spots from their previous week mark. For the complete poll, please CLICK HERE.

With Minnesota spring weather creating some challenges in scheduling and field conditions, ICC has been able to find turf fields and a handful of snow-free ballparks across the region. Itasca has gone 9-1 over their last ten contests, including a 3-1 triumph over NJCAA Division II Dakota County Technical College and back-to-back sweeps over Central Lakes College and Hibbing Community College.

The Vikings are next scheduled to play Friday, April 20 in a double-header against Hibbing at Wade Stadium in Duluth. First pitch is set for 11am.

Baseball Continues To Roll

IMPROVES TO 17-5
IMPROVES TO 17-5

Grand Rapids Herald Review

Staff Report
Apr 13, 2018

The ICC baseball team ran its record to 17-5 after doubleheader sweeps over Central Lakes and Hibbing this week. On Tuesday, the Vikings won games over Central Lakes by scores of 11-10 and 12-6, then followed up on Thursday with wins over Hibbing by scores of 13-7 and 7-1.

In the first game Tuesday, ICC built up a 10-4 lead and were able to hold off the Raiders. Anthony Azor and Riley Versich each drove in a pair of runs for the Vikings. Nick Johnson went 4-for-4 at the plate, Pat Shea had three hits with an RBI and Tanner Shepard had two hits.

In game two, Central Lakes plated three runs in the top of the first, but ICC answered with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. They pulled in front with a five-run fourth inning.

Michael Chupurdia drove in three runs for the Vikings. Bowen Olson had two hits and two RBIs, Nick Shea had a pair of hits with an RBI and Azor and John Baker each had two hits. Reid Howard picked up the win on the mound, throwing five innings with six strikeouts.

The Vikings are the top ranked Minnesota junior college team, holding a No. 9 ranking in the NJCAA Div. III polls.

ICC will play another doubleheader against Central Lakes on Monday in Duluth.

Tuesday

Game One

ICC 11, Central Lakes 10

ICC 012 332 0 - 11

CLC 120 105 1 - 10

Hitting: Anthony Azor 1-4, BB, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Tanner Shepard 2-4, BB, RBI, run; Pat Shea 3-5, RBI, run; Isaac Rodriguez 0-5, RBI, run; Tanner Landman 1-5, run; Nick Johnson 4-4, RBI, 4 runs; Brady Beyl 0-4, RBI, run; John Baker 0-4, RBI; Riley Versich 1-3, BB, 2 RBIs.

Pitching: Zepher Resnick (W) 4-5-4-4-2-5; Lane Gerber 2-4-5-2-3-2; Shepard 1-1-1-1-1-0.

Game Two

ICC 12, Central Lakes 6

CLC 301 002 0 - 6

ICC 401 502 x - 12

Hitting: Azor 2-4, BB, 2 runs; Baker 2-3, BB, 2B, run; Shepard 0-3, BB, RBI, 2 runs; P. Shea 0-4; Bowen Olson 2-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBIs, 4 runs; Nick Shea 2-3, RBI, 2 runs; Justin Cichon 1-3, 2B, 2 RBIs, run; Michael Chupurdia 1-2, BB, 3 RBIs; Lane Ulmer 0-3; Versich 1-1.

Pitching: Reid Howard (W) 5-5-4-3-1-6; Lucas Magnuson 2-4-2-2-2-1.

Wrestlers Heading to Nationals

MCAC Wrestlers Qualify for Nationals

Itasca Community College will have four wrestlers in play at the competition- Tanner Reetz (133), Sam Naddy (149), Ethan K Kiehm (157) and Cory Schmidt (197). Reetz had a technical fall of 16-0 at 1:22, and ended with a pin at 2:13 at the MCAC District Tournament.

Rochester, Mn-

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is sending 25 wrestlers on to the NJCAA Wrestling Championships later this month. The NJCAA Wrestling Championships will be held on February 23 and 24 in the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

To view the current brackets and full event schedule, please visit: http://www.njcaawrestlingcb.com/tournament.asp

Itasca Community College will have four wrestlers in play at the competition- Tanner Reetz (133), Sam Naddy (149), Ethan K Kiehm (157) and Cory Schmidt (197). Reetz had a technical fall of 16-0 at 1:22, and ended with a pin at 2:13 at the MCAC District Tournament.

Two Blue Jay wrestlers, Hser Eh Pwae (125) and Wallace Michels (157) will represent Minnesota West Community and Technical College at the NJCAA tournament.

The 2018 MCAC runner-up, Northland Community and Technical College, will have five attendees in Council Bluffs. Pioneer athletes who qualified for Nationals include Rashidi Kikopa (141), Kyle Fowler (149), Richard Dralu (165), Hunter Roller (184) and Desmond Bradford (285). Dralu won with a 6-4 decision and Roller won with a 7-5 decision in their final matches at the North District tournament held at RCTC this past weekend.

Ridgewater Community College will also have five wrestlers moving on- Lucas Hagel (125), Mark Voss (149), Augustus Siaway (165), Jareth Hoernemann (197) and Nathan Hellman (285). As a team, Ridgewater finished fourth in the MCAC/North Division tournament.

MCAC dual meet and North District Tournament champion Rochester Community and Technical College will have the most wrestlers in the tournament with nine athletes navigating the District tournament to emerge as qualifiers.

Yellowjacket athletes Noah Bauer (125), Parker Huss (133), Austin Hall (141), Alfred Daniel (157), Elijah Hollins (165), Shane Siewart (174), Zach Moon (184), Mason Hawkins (197) and Luis Pinto (285) all will compete at the 2018 National Championships. At the North District Tournament, Bauer won his first match with a fall of 4:17, followed by an 11-10 decision. Hall started with a 16-1 technical fall at 2:45 and ended with a fall of 1:49. Daniel won his match with a fall of 2:49. Siewart won the first round due to injury. Pinto had a 9-6 decision in the first round.

For more on the MCAC State/North District Tournament, please click here.

Trap Shooting Comes to ICC

In the Fall of 2017, the Itasca Vikings began competing in the newly formed Northeast Minnesota Intercollegiate Clay Target League.