(The Center Square) – A grant of $70,000 from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to the Missouri Disabled Sportsmen will assist in the purchase of four track chairs and an enclosed trailer.
Rob Garver, the State Education Program Coordinator, wrote in an email to The Center Square the funds come from the MDC’s budget, approved by the general assembly, for conservation education projects.
Track chairs are off-road electronic chairs designed for transporting those with mobility challenges over all types of terrain. Peter Eisentrager, president of the Missouri Disabled Sportsmen (MDS), said the grant would help the nonprofit organization assist more outdoor enthusiasts. MDS provides mobility-impaired youth, adults and terminally ill youth with hunting, fishing, shooting sports and outdoor education safely and inclusively.
“The chairs are going to allow us to expand the opportunities we provide to mobility-impaired and folks with mobility challenges around the state,” Eisentrager said in an interview with The Center Square. “And secondarily, it’s going to allow the Department of Conservation, logistically speaking, to free up some of their chairs and, hopefully, get those to other events.”
Eisentrager said his organization had used MDC’s track chairs to help the organization’s members for the last six years. The MDC’s Missouri Accessible Outdoors Track-Chair Program currently has 14 track chairs. They’re used to help program participants for hunting, fishing and other outdoor education activities sponsored by MDC or partnering organizations like MDS. Four track chairs are in Springfield, four in Kirksville, two in Cape Girardeau and four in Kansas City.
Eisentrager said the funding would enable his organization to provide more access for those needing the equipment.
“For (MDC) to get chairs to us from every corner of the state… this is an investment in part of their mission to do the education and provide services around the state with equipment,” Eisentrager said. “We’ve been able to provide to them through a longstanding relationship – 14 years – with our organization. They trust us as a grassroots organization that’s going to use state funding for the citizens of Missouri and not a private group that’s going to hold on to it. People from all over the state will benefit.”
Eisentrager added the organization would file usage reports with MDC to ensure accountability.
“Partnerships between MDC and organizations like MDS are integral to the Department’s outreach efforts,” Garver said in a statement announcing the grant. “We’ve partnered with MDS for several years and we’re confident this grant and the new track-chairs will strengthen this relationship for years to come.”