Iowa School Districts Add Hunter Education for Grades 7-12
Russ Chastain 12.19.18
Two school districts in Iowa will reportedly soon be teaching hunter education to 7th and 8th grade students, and offering it as an elective for high school students.
Firearm safety is being added to the curriculum in the North Butler and Clarksville Community School Districts.
Starting in the spring, a mandatory hunter safety course taught by Butler County Conservation will be implemented into the 7th and 8th grade PE curriculum. A voluntary, closed class will be added for those in grades 9-12 who want to participate.
This is an excellent idea, and it should be (though I realize that with today’s wimpy populace, it probably will not be) implemented in all schools. After all, education is vital, especially when it comes to firearms safety.
Superintendent Joel Foster says the course was developed to keep the safety of students and staff the top priority. “What we do best is educate our kids,” Foster says. “We feel if we educate our kids in how to use weapons responsibly, how to respect them, understand it’s not a video game and those sort of things, that maybe we’ll cut down on our chances of having a severe incident.”
Foster says he knows not every student will go hunting, nor does he expect them to as a result of the training. The hope is to expose all students to firearm safety, whether it’s for hunting or for life situations down the road.
“You never know what’s going to happen. If my 12-year-old girl is out babysitting a 3-year-old and the 3-year-old walks out of mom and dad’s bedroom with a handgun or a shotgun, she needs to know how to handle that,” Foster says. “That’s one of the scenarios we don’t really think about. It’s better to be proactive than reactive and this is the best way we could think of to be proactive with things.”
I have always been grateful that my father took the time to teach my sister and me about guns, and told us in no uncertain terms that 1) we must NEVER handle guns without him present, and 2) anytime we asked, he would gladly show us the guns and how to use them. Of course, he also taught us gun safety and how to fire them. When we were quite young, he had us shooting 22 rimfire rifles and muzzleloading pistols.
We learned to respect firearms — and above all, the education removed the mystery from them. We had no need nor desire to handle guns secretly. Education is powerful stuff.
But, not all students will have to participate.
Parents who oppose having their child participate can sign a form opting them out of the class. No operable firearms or live ammunition will be present during the course.
According to the Center for Injury and Research Prevention, the majority (89%) of unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home. Most of these deaths occur when children are playing with a loaded gun in their parent’s absence.
This school program is a great idea, and I hope it spreads.