Outdoors education helps our kids grow in so many ways
More now than ever before those who have an interest in learning about the outdoors find it difficult to make connections with people to teach them. This is especially true when it comes to hunting and fishing where children are involved. The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is working to help with this dilemma through their Hunting and Fishing Academy. This volunteer-driven program not only works with the kids but the parents as well by providing comprehensive and immersive experiences.
Through partnerships with landowners the program has access to some of the best hunting and fishing grounds in the state. The highly trained volunteers—known as Hunt Masters—lead the participants through the training process. They teach about species and their habitats, ethical harvesting methods, and much more. The academy isn’t just about hunting or fishing; the participants learn core skills for camping all the way down to how to build a fire and leave a campsite without a trace of it having been there.
The academy is only one part of a growing interest in outdoor programs. The Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program is one of the largest youth shooting programs in the nation. Tennessee currently has 83 teams in public and private schools along with some independent clubs like the 4H program. The special taxes on firearms and ammunition help fuel these programs.
Our children today spend far too little time outdoors. Some studies indicate that less than 25 percent get more than 30 minutes of physical activity per week. There is no doubt in my mind that when kids spend time outdoors, they are less depressed and more engaged in learning. Even the playground at times has the air of uncertainty and that affords the opportunity to learn by trial and error, failure and success. Learning to deal with the unknown helps them learn to plan, prioritize, multi-task and negotiate. These are skills that are crucial for their success.
Educating our youth is critical for the preservation of conservation. The sales of hunting and fishing licenses provides $8.3 million per day nationwide for conservation efforts. Programs like Hunter for the Hungry help feed on a regular basis thousands of Tennesseans who are in need. If you are interested in conservation I strongly advise you to get involved with one of these programs to help teach our children the value of the outdoor experience.