Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF), has a long history of supporting education and teaching about conservation and the role hunters plays in it. Since 1977, they have provided an educational program called the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS). AWLS focuses on providing educators the most effective ways to share and teach about conservation and role hunters play in it to the thousands of youth they see in their careers in education.
The original program was designed to be given to youth. However, pioneers of the program soon realized a farther reaching impact on youth could be obtained through educating teachers on how to educate their students about conservation and hunters impact upon it. Since this time 30+ years ago, over 6,000 educators have been trained to teach the youth they come in contact with this very important concept.
While at SCIF’s AWLS facility in WY, educators learn a variety of curriculum and activities they can use to teach students once returning to their classrooms. One particular piece that is taught is to help educators understand hunters are not just about harvesting an animal, but about making sure habitat is improved or increased to benefit the environment. Educators learn about how water quality impacts animals and in particular fish that live in it. They are provided understanding about the water cycle and what lives in the water the fish need to survive. Educators are shown how they can teach these same concepts to their students by taking them to a local pond or stream and teaching them about it. As an extension of this, educators are then taught the concept of tying flies for use in fishing by using what their knowledge of what lives in the water ecosystem and to mimic this for the catching of fish. Students not only get to learn about how important water and its ecosystem is to animals, but they also learn a form of art by learning how to tie flies to use in fishing.
All educators are trained in the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP). This allows them to go back and introduce their students to this great program where students learn archery and can compete on a state and national level. By introducing students to archery they are being given a conduit to potentially become a bow hunter. Since its inception, NASP has had over a million youth go through its program.
Educators are taught about how conservation is paid for through hunter and angler contributions through license and equipment sales used in hunting and fishing. By educating them about this important aspect they are able to go back and encourage youth to engage in hunting and fishing as a way of helping support conservation efforts in our country so, they and future generations have the great open spaces and places to enjoy and use.
These few examples are just a small window into the topics and subjects educators receive during their time in the AWLS program. By providing educators the tools needed to teach youth in their classrooms about the importance of hunters and their role in conservation, SCIF is helping to provide educators the most effective ways to share and teach about conservation and role hunters play in it to the thousands of youth they see in their careers in education. Our future as hunters and conservationist depends on it.