MacKenzie mission can evolve, but keep environmental education part of the program
The immediate and strong negative reaction to the idea of changing the focus of the MacKenzie Environmental Center from youth environmental education to training mentors for trapping, angling, and hunting was encouraging.
Understanding that trappers, anglers and hunters need environmental education before they learn about trapping muskrats, fishing bullheads, and hunting raccoons means we understand the learning curve.
We do realize that environmental education as a prerequisite to the taking of natural resources through hunting and gathering. Youth interested in the environment is where trappers, anglers and hunters come from. True, most never reach that second step, but it’s a lot easier to explain and understand deer management with some background in aspen ecology to those who do move onward.
And those who “drop out” of applied environmental education at least understand why hunters hunt and anglers fish. And most support them, too. Not only that, but they will vote some day.
Both areas of education are needed, of course, but at the moment there are many avenues for those who want to become trappers, anglers and hunters. Many of these second level programs are conducted by volunteers, including hunter educators and learn-to-hunt program mentors.
And don’t forget parents, relatives, friends and conservation wardens. The list is long, and growing, and needed to give practical application courses to future outdoors men and women.
To start at the applied level would be analogous to closing the doors of kindergarten through grade eight in the public schools and expecting the high schools, universities and technical colleges to be the beginning points of educating young people.
Again, we need both. The MacKenzie Center is doing a great job, a job that was understood and appreciated, and some of the “graduates” of that program have moved on to hunter education, learn-to-hunt, mentored hunts, and family camping trips.