SCI Foundation has developed and implemented numerous programs supporting recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) activities seeking to create new participants or increase participation rates in activities like fishing, hunting and shooting. Current trends show a decline in the number of new hunters entering the sport. Adding new hunters to replace those that are leaving is essential if continued levels of support and revenue for wildlife conservation are to continue into the future. Many SCI foundation programs are aimed at doing just that with many more to come.
A core R3 activity is the American Wilderness Leadership School also known as AWLS. This facility located on Granite Creek, Wyoming host over 200 educators/year that receive conservation education lesson to take back to classroom including the North American Model on Wildlife Conservation (NA Model), NASP, firearms, wildlife ecology, and more. In the last 10 years over 2,000 educators have attended these sessions and incorporate what they have learned into their classroom. In a 2018 survey, these educators reached over 82,000 students last year on conservation education and important role hunting plays in managing wildlife. AWLS also hosts a High School session where 30-35 students receive the conservation education training and helps to prepare them for a leadership role in promoting sustainable conservation.
Another core program SCIF has developed in the R3 arena is the America’s Hunting Heritage program that has free lesson plans for teachers that includes education videos and classroom lesson plans about conservation education. The video explores the history of hunting in North America and the evolution of wildlife conservation including how it’s funded through regulated hunting and fishing. The program follows wildlife biologists in the field as they investigate the science of wildlife management of two prominent species; the white-tailed deer, and the American black bear. The video aired nationally on YouTube, Vimeo and IntotheOutdoors.org channels. To check out the program and find links to the complete program and lesson plans go to https://safariclubfoundation.org/into-the-outdoors/. The program was completed August 2018. The original program was accomplished by an HLF Grant for $55,000. The television show aired in the mid-west on 22 television stations and is also webcast on IntotheOutdoors.org, for the next 5 years. Estimated viewers from Neilsen Ratings (audience measuring system) projected 260,000 views, with 50% over 18 years old and in total over 2 million views in the next two years. We are now developing a phase II of this program, thanks in part to a grant from the USFWS and SCI Life Hunter Advocacy Society, which will create more programs and lesson plans.
SCIF also produced and distributed over 400 “Hands-On-Wildlife Kits” (HOW Kits) to educators to use in their classroom. The kit includes pelts, replicas of skulls, scat, and tracks of North American animals along with other relevant materials and a curriculum quick-guide for teaching conservation in the classes. This is valuable resources that supports the NA model which emphasizes the important role that hunters and trappers play in conservation and assisting in wildlife management.
Two other programs that are reaching youth in a big way is our partnership with the Salvation Army Outdoors (TSAO) and Boy Scouts of Americas (BSA) newly developed Hunter Education Program. SCIF has partnered with TSAO providing training and shooting sports equipment that are reaching over 120,00 youth and family members in conservation education, archery, pellet rifle and youth hunting programs each year. While a recent collaboration with the BSA at the local and national levels to teach shooting sports and encourage participation in hunting. To carry this out, a new Hunter Education program has been developed with BSA and the West Virginia DNR that creates a one-hour primer and a half-day hunter education course which has reached 3,5000 participants from 44 different. The course emphasizes shooting, hunting and conservation.
At the SCIF Headquarters in Tucson, the International Wildlife Museum, has conservation exhibits that reaches approximately 20,000 youth/year who view and learn about wildlife conservation; and the efforts that SCI/F is participating in conservation programs and benefits hunting plays around the world.
One other new initiative that is being developed is the creation of a quarterly SCI/F youth publication that will go out to SCI youth members that will provide age appropriate content and information about wildlife and hunting. The publication is being developed by the International Wildlife Museum, who will dedicate some of their time to compose this initial publication with a target date to get this out around mid-summer.
From programs like the American Wilderness Leadership School to our partnerships with like-minded groups like the Salvation Army and support of important projects like Into the Outdoors, SCI Foundation Continues to lead the way in showing the import role hunters and hunting play in wildlife conservation.