Federal announces changes to its education and conservation staff

Jon Zinnel will fill the role of conservation and youth shooting program manager.

Anoka, Minn. — After Outdoor News’ press time last week, Vista Outdoor issued a statement announcing changes to its conservation and youth education program. The Outdoor Insight column on Page 3 of last week’s Outdoor News had reported that longtime conservation program director Ryan Bronson would be leaving the company in a cost-cutting move.

In a press release on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 28, Vista, the parent company of Anoka-based Federal announced that Jon Zinnel will fill the role of conservation and youth shooting program manager. Zinnel had most recently served as conservation and youth shooting program manager for Vista Outdoor.

“Conservation is a critical part of our heritage and key to the future of our sport,” said Jason Vanderbrink, president of Federal. “Having a dedicated position at the factory will build on a legacy that started here more than 80 years ago and was solidified for 42 years under the late Bill Stevens. Our employees take great pride in giving back to wildlife, habitat and youth shooting programs and that will continue.”

Zinnel most recently served as Conservation and Youth Shooting Program Manager for Vista Outdoor, supporting multiple consumer brands from Federal and CCI to CamelBak and Champion Traps & Targets. He was part of growing partnerships with Scouting BSA, 4-H, IHEA and conservation programs from Pheasants Forever to National Wild Turkey Federation and many more.

In emails to Outdoor News last Wednesday and Thursday, JJ Reich, senior media relations manager for Federal, CCI, and Speer Ammunition, said that since the spin-off from ATK to Vista Outdoor in 2015, the conservation program led by Bronson and Zinnel had become a corporate function within Vista that represented all brands: Federal, CCI, Primos, CamelBak, Bell, and others.

“This week, Vista Outdoor decided to move those functions and responsibilities to the brand teams instead. All brands are doing their own conservation programs now,” Reich said via email. “As a result, Bronson and Zinnel were released from their Vista Outdoor corporate jobs. However, Jon Zinnel was asked to work for the Federal Brand Team to keep Federal’s conservation and youth education efforts going.”

Calling Bronson a “good friend,” Reich’s email said the changes were “unfortunate” and due to financial shifts, and not performance. Zinnel, he said, will continue advancing Federal’s longstanding efforts in conservation and youth education programs.

“We are fortunate to be able to have Jon Zinnel in our Conservation and Youth Education position under the Federal/CCI/Speer brands. We also wish the best for Bronson; he did outstanding things here at Federal for more than a decade, and we hope to see him land somewhere great within the industry,” Reich wrote.

Formerly a Minnesota DNR employee and a member of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, Bronson had been with Federal/Vista for 12 years. On Twitter last Wednesday, Bronson wrote: “It is important to note that @FederalPremium stepped up today and re-created their conservation manager position. My former colleague Jon Zinnel is a more than qualified conservation leader. Thank you for your words of support today.”

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