Outreach and Education Committee

Wednesday, 9:00am, Jan. 28, 2004

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Texas Master Naturalist Program
Staff: Michelle Haggerty
Committee Only
3. Hunter Education Review
Staff: Steve Hall
Committee Only
4. Expo Business Report
Staff: Ernie Gammage
Committee Only
5. Other Business

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Michelle Haggerty

Outreach and Education Committee
Texas Master Naturalist Program
January 2004

I. Executive Summary: As part of the implementation of the Outreach, Education and Interpretation Strategic Plan, staff will present briefings on various programs throughout the department to give the Commission a better understanding of the breadth and scope of many of the key efforts in Texas. These programs are reflected in the approved Project Charters.

The first is a briefing on the Texas Master Naturalist Program administered by the Wildlife Diversity Branch of the Wildlife Division.

II. Discussion: The Texas Master Naturalist (TMN) program trains and manages chapters of certified volunteers who become stewards and advocates for natural habitats and resources in their communities. Volunteers also function as outreach specialists to build awareness about native species and natural systems to ensure the long-terms sustainability and enjoyment of these Texas resources for years to come.

Begun five years ago, TMN currently has 26 Texas chapters and Master Naturalist volunteers have dedicated over 163,500 hours of service related to natural resource community projects, education and outreach valued at more than $2.7 million. TMN also served as the model for a national program implemented this year.

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenters: Terry Erwin
Steve Hall

Outreach and Education Committee
Hunter Education Review
January 2004

I. Executive Summary: The attached proposal at Exhibit A provides a temporary exemption from hunter education requirements for persons age 17 years of age and older who are required to complete a hunter education course to legally hunt in Texas. (Those under 17 years of age already have a similar exemption.)

The proposal grants adults an opportunity to give “hunting a try” prior to successful completion of a hunter education course.

II. Discussion: Currently, many states and provinces are identifying specific hunting recruitment and retention strategies to ensure that hunting and wildlife conservation continue far into the future. In Texas, these strategies are included in “Preserving Texas’ Hunting Heritage – a Strategic Plan for Ensuring the Future of Hunting in Texas,” a plan reviewed and adopted by this commission. Hunter education staff has reviewed the plan to identify specific strategies the mandatory* hunter education program can address (*Section 62.014 Parks and Wildlife Code; Section 55, Texas Parks and Wildlife Regulations).

Further discussion of these strategies was made at the Governor’s Symposium on North America’s Hunting Heritage hosted by this department in December in Houston. Many of the discussions centered on the main barriers to hunting such as access to lands, costs, priorities of a person’s time and access to responsible mentors.

In some of the discussions, a few people perceived hunter education laws as barriers to hunting, but the data clearly indicate otherwise. Research conducted by Responsive Management (Fish and Wildlife Agencies) showed that approximately two percent of hunters are deterred by mandatory hunter education requirements – requirements that currently exist in all 50 states. On the other hand, two percent of new hunters are recruited because of hunter education. Out of a list of 25 barriers, hunter education was last on the list in terms of barriers facing active hunters. During the symposium, none of the participants identified hunter education as a main barrier to hunting.

The data also shows that 93 percent of non-hunters and 89 percent of active hunters support hunter education training prior to accessing the privilege of hunting.

Hunter education works, and it has worked well in Texas. It reduces accidents, increases compliance to hunting laws, improves ethics and enhances the image of hunters, especially with the non-hunting public. It is a volunteer management system that provides tireless advocates for this agency and for the hunting heritage. It is the prime avenue for recruitment of young hunters and hunt masters for the Texas Youth Hunting Program.

Still, program staff must continue to be proactive in ensuring that hunter education programs are of high quality, fun, hands-on, and convenient, especially to a public that is bombarded by other ways to spend their time. Texas is fortunate. It has the most flexible mandatory hunter education law in the country and provides the most convenience in terms of alternate delivery methods. It is consistently among the top three states in terms of certifications and provides free, duplicate certificates upon request -- dating back to 1972. By law, the department schedules and offers courses in every county of the state at least once a year. See Exhibit B – Hunter Education in Texas – An Overview.

This proposal gives Texas one more tool to attract persons into hunting and makes getting the training even more convenient. It also allows the department to identify persons that start hunting after the age of 17 or attract lapsed hunters back into hunting after they have attended college, started families or otherwise dropped out of hunting since their youth.

Attachments - 2
1. Exhibit A – Proposal for Temporary Hunter Education Exemption
2. Exhibit B – Hunter Education in Texas – An Overview

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Exhibit A

Proposal for Temporary Hunter Education Exemption

Allows persons who are at least 17 years of age, who were born on or after September 2, 1971, and who want to hunt in Texas to apply for a one-time-only “Hunter Education Exemption Permit.”

This “permit” allows any individual who has not gained certification in Hunter Education to participate in hunting activities without certification. Permit shall be valid upon date of issue through August 31st, the effective date of the current license. Prior to expiration of the permit, the individual will be encouraged to seek hunter education certification at his/her earliest opportunity and apply the permit fee to applicable course fees.

Conditions: Option I – Manual System

  1. Application for permit must be in person at any TPWD regional or district field office or Austin Headquarters.
  2. Applicant must purchase a Resident Combination License (Type-100), Resident Hunting License (Type-101) and all applicable stamps or Resident “Super Combo” License Package (Type-111) and follow all TPWD rules and regulations.
  3. Permit fee shall be $10.00.
  4. Permit must be issued with purchase of Texas hunting license or to an applicant that shows proof of having a current, valid hunting license.
  5. Permit will state: “Temporary Hunter Education Exemption,” and contain same personal identification information as hunting license, e.g., Name, Address, Date of birth, SS#, etc.
  6. Permit must be on the person in the act of hunting along with a valid hunting license and photo ID.
  7. Permit shall be for one-time-only use, and record of application shall be on file with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
  8. Applicant must be *accompanied by a person at least 17 years of age and licensed to hunt in Texas. *Accompanied means within normal voice control.
  9. Person accompanying permitted individual must show proof of completion of hunter education or be exempted from the requirement (born prior to September 2, 1971).
  10. Any other state or provincial hunter education certification will be accepted as long as the individual has on his/her person a valid Texas hunting license.
  11. Temporary permits will be printed and distributed to all TPWD Law Enforcement offices for use.

Conditions: Option II – Point of Sale System

  1. Seek Point of Sale (POS) validation and use as the primary mechanism for issuance of a “Temporary Hunter Education Exemption” Permit.
  2. Since individual does NOT have hunter education certification, have POS continue to print: “Hunter Education Required” on license based on date of birth (on or after September 2, 1971).
  3. If individual is applying for a Temporary Hunter Education Exemption, have POS indicate on license, and have “Temporary Hunter Education Exemption” printed just below “Hunter Education Required.”
  4. Use date of license sale to validate Hunter Education Exemption year.

Any individual engaged in the act of hunting without certification after the one-time Exemption Year will be subject to current Hunter Education Regulations and be in violation of a Class C Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor. A person cited for such a violation would have the same options to appeal the citation, within ten (10) days of the offense, and complete a hunter education course within 90 days of the appeal to dismiss the charge.

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Exhibit B

Hunter Education in Texas – An Overview

Hunter education works! Mandatory hunter education programs have been around for more than 50 years in North America, are currently required in every state, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. The programs have greatly reduced the number of hunting accidents, improved compliance to hunting laws and enhanced the image of hunters, especially with the non-hunting public. The purpose of hunter education is to produce safe, responsible, knowledgeable and involved hunters.

Texas trains and certifies over 33,000 students each year in over 4,400 courses, a minimum of 10 hours in length, provided by 3,000 trained volunteer instructors, high school teachers (agriculture science curriculum) and game wardens. Volunteer in-kind services valued at over $500,000 annually are used as the state’s match to federal aid funds used by this agency to manage wildlife and educate hunters.

Courses are scheduled in every county at least once a year and include activities relating to hunting and shooting safety, preparation, responsibilities, ethics, game laws, wildlife management and conservation principles, modern and primitive sporting arms, survival, wilderness first aid, hunting techniques and specialty topics and issues. The program introduces people to the agency, to the Texas Youth Hunting Program, to other conservation organizations. It creates advocates for the hunting heritage, and those who have hunted “for decades” are able to contribute to course discussions, particularly those involving hunter ethics, and are typically invited to become volunteer instructors to “give back” to the hunting heritage.

The course is partially available on line and by home study package, followed by a hands-on “skills course,” about 4 to 5 hours in length. The Texas course meets International Hunter Education Association standards and meets out-of-state requirements such as in Colorado where hunters born on or after January 1, 1949 (Colorado’s grandfather date) must pass the course to purchase a hunting license. Considering that over 24,000 non-resident licenses are sold to Texas hunters each year, Colorado’s law greatly impact those needing courses in Texas. Standards are comprised of both knowledge and skill objectives that every hunter should know or demonstrate regardless of method used or species hunted.

Texas requires those born on or after September 2, 1971 (Texas’ grandfather date) to complete a course to legally hunt in Texas. Those under 17 may hunt without certification if accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. This gives young hunters between the ages of 12-16 years ample opportunity to find and complete the course prior to 17 years of age when they must show proof of certification a field (game warden check). The only requirement for hunters under 12 is to be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter.

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenters: Ernie Gammage

Outreach and Education Committee
Expo Business Report
January 2004

I. Executive Summary: Briefing on the fiscal operations and outreach benefits of the 2003 Texas Wildlife Expo.

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