It's not just rural Oklahoma schools using the Wildlife Department's curriculum. Berg said 40 percent of the schools are from urban areas. The courses are taught in elementary, middle and high school by teachers from various fields.
“It just depends on the school system,” Berg said. “Most of the time they are taught by physical education or FFA instructors.”
Henry was math instructor when he first introduced his students to archery.
“The kids loved it so I just kept doing it,” he said.
His wife, Cindy, teaches the same courses at Harding Charter Academy in Oklahoma City.
For the Wildlife Department, exposing kids to hunting and fishing is an attempt to ensure future generations of sportsmen.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation doesn't receive a financial appropriation from the state of Oklahoma like other state agencies. The Wildlife Department is funded almost entirely by sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
“Hunters and fishermen pay for wildlife management in Oklahoma,” Berg said.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, which provides an excise tax on fishing tackle, firearms and ammunition, archery and motorboat fuels. The money from that tax is used to fund wildlife conservation in every state.
“If we don't have hunters and fishermen in the future, we may not have wildlife in the future,” Berg said.
Students at Taft are not thinking about the future. The school year is just a few days old and Henry's students already want to know when they are going to get to pull the string on a bow.
“The things we are teaching them are things they can do for the rest of their lives,” Henry said.
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