Education and encouragement play a pivotal role in the development of young hunters. DSC is on the forefront of outdoor education through grant support, its volunteer-staffed events and the individual efforts of its members in their own communities.
Wildlife conservation is an on-going process that needs to be sustained from generation to generation. Since 1998, the DSC S.A.F.E.T.Y. Extravaganza has hosted more than 61,000 students and parents at 31 different events. DSC volunteers have provided their time, experience and passion in an effort to introduce youth to the thrill of shooting and hunting.
Outdoor Adventures (OA) is a wildly successful curriculum − first created by Dallas Ecological Foundation (now called Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation) − funded with a major donation from DSC that puts outdoor education and activities in public schools. Usually taught as a physical education class, OA teaches practical skills such as orienteering, firearm safety and high ethical values for hunters. Students can learn archery and participate on teams at the district and state levels. Students who go through the program are then eligible for a Hunter Education certificate from their state. There are currently 29,000 students enrolled in the program in 18 different states.
DSC and its members use many avenues to pass along the hunting tradition. DSC Life Member Charlie Barnes recently helped run the TexasYESS (Texas Youth Education in Shooting Sports) Outdoor Experience at the Alpine Shooting Range outside of Ft. Worth, Texas.
During this event, young hunters and shooters were presented with the opportunity to shoot pellet guns, shotguns and archery. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens were also on hand with their Operation Game Thief Wall of Shame trailer, which showcases evidence of poached animals and demonstrates how citizens can fight poaching.
Bruce Moon is a DSC Life Member making a difference for youth. Moon developed Bigs Outdoors, a program within the Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star mentoring organization that focuses on outdoor activities. With the increase of people moving into urban areas, many of the youths in the program have with little or no experience in the outdoors. Bigs Outdoors provides structured events to introduce these at-risk children and adult companions to activities such as hunting, fishing, shooting, firearm safety and nature days. The program helps develop an early understanding of the importance of the conservation of wildlife in fun and memorable ways.
It is essential for today’s hunters to encourage our youth to embrace the traditions of hunting. For the future, today’s hunters should help instill the joy of the outdoors in our youth, for they are the decision makers of the future.