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About Orion – The Hunter’s Institute

Since our founding in 1993, Orion has been focused on the pursuit of two goals that were born out of strategies developed at a 1992 governor’s symposium on hunting:

  • First, we are dedicated to improving the image of hunting with an emphasis on fair chase ethics.

  • Second, we are focused on putting hunters at the forefront of our nation’s conservation ethic.


We call ourselves The Hunter’s Institute because we view it as our mission to be the thought leaders and facilitators in the pursuit and evolution of open and honest discussion, debate, and consensus-building for the benefit of hunting.

Our Founder

Jim Posewitz  1935 - 2020


Jim Posewitz left the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks in 1993 to form Orion after nearly 40 years of service because, as he put it, “it was time to ‘re-tire’ – to take off the old tires and put on some new tires for the long road ahead.”

Posewitz set out on a mission to re-energize hunting and its conservation heritage and, in doing so, wrote a book – “Beyond Fair Chase” – which has shown significant influence the manner in which hunting and ethics are viewed in mainstream society and media. Posewitz’s message has reached over 750,000 new hunters in the last two decades and we’re on a mission to reach another 750,000 in the next few years.

Our Board of Directors


Thomas Baumeister


Thomas Baumeister co-founded and currently runs Access WILD, a business devoted to introducing people to the wilds of the West. As Faculty Associate at Carroll College and Arizona State University, he teaches courses on The Science, Ethics, and Practice of Animal Welfare, Wild Animals & Society, The Human-Nature Connection, and The Biomimicry Ethos—A Pathway from Practice to Philosophy. While serving as Conservation Education Bureau Chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Thomas facilitated the establishment of Montana WILD, wrote the state’s hunter education manual, and chaired the committee for the International Hunter Education Association to develop U.S. hunter education standards. In addition to serving as Board President for Orion – The Hunter’s Institute, he also serves on the board of the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association and is chairperson of the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame. Thomas has been recognized as Professional of the Year by the International Hunter Education Association and is a three-time recipient of the Montana Governor’s Award for Excellence in Performance. He holds two M.S. and a Ph.D. in Biology and Wildlife Biology from Universities in Germany and Montana.

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Alex Baer


Alex Baer is the Executive Director of the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) - USA.  He is also the Board Treasurer for the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports (CAHSS).  Originally from Pennsylvania, he feels fortunate to now live in Montana where his wife and two boys enjoy just about everything.  Before coming to IHEA, Alex was an outdoor industry business consultant and the Director of Sales for onX.  Once upon a time, Alex was an archaeologist before finding his passion for business development, technology, education, and the Conservation Industry.  Today he combines all four to further hunter education opportunities and assist the national R3 Movement through innovative partnerships.


Jan Dizard


Jan was born in Duluth, MN in 1940 and spent his first twenty-one years juggling the demands of school and the siren call of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and the rivers that emptied into Lake Superior. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1962 and suspended his interest in the out-of-doors to earn a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1967. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-69. He joined the faculty of Amherst College in 1969 where he is the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of American Culture. An avid fly fisher and upland bird hunter, he has written extensively on hunting and hunter ethics, co-chairs Amherst College’s major in Environmental Studies, and is active in several local sportsmen’s clubs. He is deeply committed to forging a renewed alliance between environmentalists and sportsmen and sportswomen.


Patt Dorsey


Patt Dorsey is an avid hunter and angler who, as a young girl wanted to be a wildlife biologist. She believes that the passion hunters have for wildlife is unique, largely unmatched and necessary for the conservation of wild places. Hunters need to understand how special their hunting heritage is and support ethical foundations that will ensure a place for hunting into the future. Patt worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife 1991-2019. She held a variety of positions throughout her career: commissioned wildlife officer, hunter education administrator and the regional manager for the southwest quarter of the state. She received Outstanding Wildlife Officer Awards by the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and the Shikar Safari,  the “Past President’s Award” from the International Hunter Education Association and the Jim Jones Outstanding Employee award. She enjoys being outdoors and is at home in southwest Colorado, where access to the outdoors includes everything from red rock desert to alpine tundra. Patt holds a BS in wildlife biology from Colorado State University.


John Edwards


John Edwards is a Professor of Wildlife Management at West Virginia University. Among John’s hunting-related efforts are the preservation of our hunting heritage and the promotion of recreational hunting. John teaches a class entitled, Tradition of Hunting, at West Virginia University and since its inception in 2004, nearly 2700 students have enrolled in the course. John also serves on the Board of the Hunting, Trapping and Conservation Working Group of The Wildlife Society, and as an instructor for the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow program. John holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Forest Resources from Clemson University.


Holly Heyser


Holly Heyser embraced hunting at 41, started writing about it at 42 and began mentoring new adult hunters at 43.

A lifelong professional communicator, her roots are in the newspaper business, but she also has taught journalism at her alma mater (Sacramento State), worked in conservation as a communications director (California Waterfowl), and done wild food photography (Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, five cookbooks).

She indulges her passion for teaching by organizing mentored hunts (Black Heritage Hunt, Novice Women’s Duck Hunt, women’s pheasant hunts), and with YouTube how-to videos about shotguns, shooting and wild-game cooking (/NorCalCazadora).

Holly engages vividly with hunters and non-hunters alike, whether writing, teaching, or speaking at events. She communicates with passion about how hunting reconnects humans with our original home in nature, and with honesty about the motivations, choices and actions of hunters.

Based in Sacramento, California, Holly is an avid public-land bird hunter, focused primarily on waterfowl. She loves every aspect of the hunt, from preparation to hunting to making the most of the game she brings home. A pantry full of game stock and stores of rendered duck fat are every bit as important to her as a freezer full of meat.

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Marion Larson


Marion Larson grew up in Massachusetts’ Connecticut River Valley.  Raised by a wildlife biologist/professor father and Master Gardner mother with a horticulture degree, Marion opines that her passion for educating others about nature and the outdoors was an inevitable result of both her genes and environment.  While at the University of Vermont, where she earned a degree in Environmental Interpretation/Education, she gained experience as a conservation camp counselor, seasonal state park naturalist, and deputy game warden. It was during this time, she was introduced to the world of shooting and hunting. In her 38+ year career with the Massachusetts fish and wildlife department she was an Environmental Police Officer, Wildlife Education Coordinator, Outreach Coordinator and finally Chief of Information and Education. She served as interim Hunter Education Coordinator, Becoming an Outdoorswoman Program Coordinator and Media Relations Coordinator.  Now retired, Marion is an active long time volunteer Hunter Education Instructor and continues to follow her education and outdoor interests with local sporting groups, land trusts, birding, gardening and other conservation organizations. She enjoys day hiking, birding, rail trail biking, flat water kayaking, point & shoot camera photography as well as the occasional local bird or deer hunt. International and domestic travel feeds both her outdoor and cultural interests.


Harley McAllister


Harley McAllister is an Engineering Project Manager, but is most alive when he is outdoors with his kids. He and his wife are authors of a series of guide books for engaging families with our National Parks titled “Adventuring with Kids”, and they also have several online media platforms to help parents get their kids outside including and Harley has a B.S. in Engineering from Dartmouth College, where we was President of the Bait & Bullet club, and has also served on the board of the Spokane Bird Dog Association. He has been a hunter for over 35 years, including bow, rifle, and shotgun in a dozen different states and provinces. He is passionate about wild places and the wild animals that live there, and in promoting democratic access to them while conserving them for future generations.


Eric Nuse


Eric C. Nuse is a board member from VT who works with hunter education professionals, conservation groups and State to improver hunter knowledge and behavior. Eric has dedicated his career to ensuring the future of hunting He feels that asking the tough questions and helping to facilitate the search for articulate answers is the way to improve hunting practices and acceptance of hunting and hunters by the public. Eric was recently awarded the Jim Posewitz award from the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers for his work on hunter ethics. Eric is a retired Game Warden, hunter education coordinator, executive VP for the International Hunter Education Association and Orion-The Hunters Institute. Eric holds degrees in Wildlife Management, Criminal Justice and training in whole group high engagement facilitation and public management.


John Organ


John Organ is a Certified Wildlife Biologist® with over 40 years experience in wildlife conservation on 5 continents. He is a life member of the International Hunter Education Association, Past President, Fellow, and Honorary Member of The Wildlife Society, and Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club. He has published over 100 scientific papers and article on subjects ranging from the conservation of large mammals to the role of hunters in conservation. He was the 2014 recipient of the Wildlife Management Institute’s George Bird Grinnell Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation, and a 2018 recipient of the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award. He is a Team Leader in the Massachusetts Hunter Education Program. He holds a Ph.D. in wildlife and fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Phil Seng


Phil T. Seng is vice president of DJ Case & Associates, a full-service communications consulting firm that specializes in natural resources conservation issues. Since 1986, DJ Case has been working with state and federal natural resources agencies and private conservation organizations to help them communicate with their publics and constituents about natural resources conservation issues. Since the mid-1990s, DJ Case has worked extensively in the world of hunting and angling recruitment, retention and reactivation, and hunter and trapper education and ethics. Phil has helped state agencies develop and implement systematic, integrated marketing campaigns for increasing hunting license sales. He also has been active at the national level, working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation to develop best practices and communications strategies for hunting and angling recruitment and retention and ethics/stewardship. Phil holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife management from Purdue University (where he was captain of the Purdue Rifle Team and president of the Purdue Rifle and Pistol Club) and a master’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is a lifelong hunter, angler, shooter, and reloader. One of his favorite activities is mentoring new participants into hunting and the shooting sports. He is a certified wildlife biologist and a certified hunter education instructor. He serves on the Indiana Turn In a Poacher (TIP) Citizen’s Advisory Board and the board of directors of the Hoosier Outdoor Writers Association.

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Durrell Smith


Durrell Smith is a 34 year old Atlanta, Georgia native, visual artist, conservationist, Ambassador for Beretta USA, Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Guide, bird dog handler/trainer, and podcast host. While creating compelling abstract assemblage or commissioned india ink and watercolor illustrations based on his field experiences and hunting dogs, he also runs a podcast called The Sporting Life Notebook, along with his nonprofit, the Minority Outdoor Alliance, co-founded with his wife Ashley.  Durrell is also the recipient of the 2021 Orvis Breaking Barriers Award, which honors individuals or organizations going above and beyond to bring new communities into fly fishing or wingshooting.  As a first generation hunter, Durrell seeks to learn with and contribute to the outdoor community by connecting with visionaries within the visual arts and bird dog community who are willing to share stories and knowledge about the various breeds and practices, creating a bridge to welcome aspiring dog men and women to the bird dog community.

Educate, Engage and Empower hunters.

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