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TPWD News Release — Feb. 20, 2007

Student Archers Gather in Temple for Statewide Competition

TEMPLE, Texas — Upwards of 250 student archers from 20 public, private and charter schools will be competing here at the Mayborn Convention Center Feb. 23 in the second annual Texas Archery in Schools Program tournament.

The one-day tournament is hosted by the Texas Field Archery Association in conjunction with its annual statewide adult tournament. The Texas Archery in Schools Program is a joint venture of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Cooperative Extension Service. Its focus is on providing target archery training in fourth through 12th grade physical education classes.

Dallas Safari Club, Gulf States Toyota and the Texas Hunter Education Association are sponsoring the program and event.

“Archery turns a lot of kids on to the shooting sports in general and is a safe way for them to experience the shooting sports in an indoor controlled setting,” said Steve Hall, TPWD education director. “Archery is a sport that is accessible to all students, and studies have shown that students who are involved in extra-curricular activities are much less likely to drop out of school. In other states, the program has been shown to improve kids’ self-esteem and engagement in school, and we believe that many of the participants will go on to become bow hunters and supporters of wildlife conservation.”

The Texas program is modeled after the National Archery in Schools Program, which originated in Kentucky in 2002 and is currently active in 45 states. Texas began training teachers in 2005 and piloted the program in schools in 2006. Through a partnership with the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, Texas A&M University System and Texas 4-H Shooting Sports Program, TPWD is initiating full-scale implementation of the program and has hired a statewide coordinator.

Burnie Kessner, director of the Arkansas 4-H Center and longtime wildlife biologist and outdoor educator, has been hired and will start March 1 as the new statewide Archery in Schools program coordinator for Texas. He has been trained in archery programs, hunter education and programs like Project WILD in his extensive experience working for extension services and fish and wildlife agencies in Georgia, Arkansas and Texas. His primary duties will include archery training for teachers and teacher trainers interested in advancing the program in their schools. Kessner will be housed at the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, Texas A&M University, and can be reached temporarily by contacting hunter education staff at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at 512-389-4999.