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Mentoring Program Assists New Hunter Ed Instructors
AUSTIN, Texas Texas has a national reputation for making access to hunter education convenient and plentiful with more than 4,400 courses offered across the state and at least one in all 254 counties each year.
Thanks to recent innovations, Texans now have several options available for fulfilling hunter education requirements, including the traditional classroom environment, a home study course and an online course. In addition to certifying about 33,000 students annually, about 400 new hunter education instructors receive certification each year.
The hunter education course is a minimum 10-hour class that teaches hunting safety, modern and primitive sporting arms, wildlife conservation, outdoor skills and responsibility. When the course is completed, the certification card is good for life and is honored by all states, Mexico, and all Canadian provinces that require hunter education. Proof of certification, which includes the card or the hunter education certification number printed on the hunting license, must be carried at all times while hunting.
While thousands of new certified hunters are taking this valuable knowledge to the field, education program officials have found that some new hunter education instructors are reluctant to start using their newfound skills.
“We know that a very small percentage of newly certified instructors are becoming active in teaching courses,” said Terry Erwin, hunter education coordinator with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “They have a hard time getting started. That’s why we’ve developed a mentoring program for new hunter education instructors.”
The new program, implemented just this year, gives new hunter education instructors an opportunity to team up with a seasoned instructor who will help organize classes and provide support.
“If you’ve never been exposed to teaching hunter education principles and practices or a classroom teaching environment, it can be pretty intimidating,” added Steve Hall, TPWD education director. “Hopefully, this new program will help new instructors become better and more active teachers.”
TPWD staff and area chief volunteer instructor trainers will be training new instructors at a series of upcoming workshops scheduled throughout the state. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, in reasonably good health and of high integrity. Instructors must graduate from a state-certified hunter education student course in addition to taking TPWD’s 12-hour instructor training workshop.
To become a certified instructor, you must also pass a written examination and submit to an oral interview by a TPWD game warden. (A criminal background check will be conducted and those failing to meet certain standards may be denied certification).
Application forms and a schedule of upcoming instructor certification workshops are available online (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/edu/hunted/) or by contacting Erwin at (800) 792-1112, Ext. 63.
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