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January 21, 2009

Expanding Wildlife Conservation In Partnership With SCI


The National Shooting Sports Foundation has for many years made available three wildlife conservation education videos free of charge to schools nationwide, distributing an estimated 500,000 copies in over 100,000 schools. The videos are "The Un-Endangered Species" (for middle and high schools), "Wildlife For Tomorrow" (for elementary schools) and "What They Say About Hunting" (a mock debate geared to high school students). These programs can be watched online or on DVD at home but are best viewed in a classroom setting–with teaching materials supplied by NSSF–where they establish an understanding of the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation among students and teachers and foster positive discussion and debate.

Such education is needed now more than ever. As our culture has migrated away from its rural roots, there is less awareness of how our nation's wildlife conservation system functions and the role hunting plays in it. Children increasingly grow up with no knowledge of it, even though they care a great deal about wildlife. At first glance, students see “hunting” and “conservation” as being at odds, but they are not, especially when they comprehend that wildlife biologists manage populations of species, not individual animals. This and many other concepts of the North American Model are conveyed by NSSF's award-winning videos.

Increasing our reach to our nation's educators and students is the focus of a new partnership between NSSF, Safari Club International (SCI) and Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF). This initiative, announced at the SHOT Show, will create an online education center to greatly expand the reach of NSSF's videos as well as their accompanying classroom guides and lesson plans. NSSF will provide SCI and SCIF with a $100,000 grant for this effort. The online classroom project is the right program at the time, providing a go-to resource for students and teachers looking to do research for papers and projects about this great American story of wildlife and wild lands and their connection to individuals such as Teddy Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, and organizations such as the Boone & Crockett Club and Ducks Unlimited.

For its part, SCI has been doing outstanding conservation education through its American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) program, training more than 5,000 teachers about the role of hunting in conservation and successful wildlife restoration. During their careers, these teachers will reach about 1.5 million students in the U.S. AWLS currently trains about 250 additional teachers per year through its camp in Jackson, Wyo.

SOME FACTS ABOUT WILDLIFE AND HUNTING:

Wildlife is a public-trust resource in America and as such every citizen should know some basics facts about it and hunting. Here are a few from the NSSF videos . . .

–Approximately 20 million Americans hunt.
–Research shows that 8 in 10 individuals support hunting, whether they hunt or not.
–License fees and excise taxes on hunting equipment support wildlife conservation and habitat preservation for both game and non-game species.
–Excise taxes on firearms and ammunition products have contributed more than $5.6 billion to the federal Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund—-money that benefits each state’s wildlife agency.
–Game meat is healthful, low in fat, nutritious, locally acquired and renewable.
–Venison donated by hunters helps feed the less fortunate at hundreds of food pantries across the country.
–No endangered species are being hunted or threatened with extinction by hunters.
–The single biggest cause of any species' decline is loss of habitat.
–Many game animal populations (white-tailed deer, wild turkey, Rocky Mountain elk, wood duck) are at record-high population levels.