Some middle school students in Wyoming have been earning hunter education certificates through their regular gym classes.
Wyoming Youngsters Learn About Hunting
This autumn, students at Burlington Middle School in Burlington, Wyoming got through 16 hours of hunting coursework, Wyoming News Now reports. It covered ethics, wildlife identification, state laws and regulations, wildlife conservation and firearms safety.
The Burlington Middle School students join students from 18 other schools across Wyoming who have access to hunter education classes during their normal school day. Each year, the Wyoming Hunter Education program certifies about 5,000 students.
After they finished their coursework, the Burlington Middle School students took a field trip to Gunwerks. They shot .22 long rifles to practice marksmanship. Then they had a pizza party.
“The field trip gave students an opportunity to practice safe firearms handling practices they learned as part of class,” Information and Education Specialist Tara Hodges, who helped lead the class, said. “[It] was a fun way to finish the course.”
Physical Education teacher Lanning May and Big Horn County Sheriff Deputy Nate Kreider, the school’s resource officer, also taught the class.
Focusing on Heritage and Ethics
Hunter education classes have a long and storied history. First called hunter safety, the courses began over 60 years ago. They started as a way to cut down on hunting accidents. These days, the classes tend to focus more on the details of hunting heritage.
Hunting ethics is also a major focus of the classes. Teachers try to inculcate a sense of duty toward the environment. They also encourage community involvement and personal responsibility.
A survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that 40% of the U.S. adult population engages in hunting, fishing or other outdoors activities. Before Covid-19 hit, wildlife officials were seeing a decline in hunting activity. But since the pandemic began, gun sales and hunting license sales have surged, and state shooting ranges are seeing a jump in traffic.
It’s the perfect time for these youngsters to begin learning how to be responsible outsiders.