Author: Cassie Scott
Conservation officers from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will teach hunter education to seventh- and eighth-graders at the North Butler and Clarksville Community school districts in February.
Administration officials first discussed educating students about firearms safety after a Clarksville student died in an accidental shooting in 2018.
Joel Foster is the superintendent for both districts. He said the course will educate students on safe weapon handling, and help prevent accidents.
“A lot of our students live in homes that have guns,” Foster said. “And even if they don’t, they might be babysitting or visiting somewhere, and they might have to deal with them. I’d much rather kids learn about guns in a controlled environment rather than out on the streets. A little education can go a long way.”
The superintendent and Board of Education president both agree that the course will be very beneficial. Photo credit: 2nd Ammendment Insider
Elizabeth Schroeder, president of North Butler’s Board of Education, agreed.
“Our goal as a board and school system is to prepare our students for the world outside the school,” she said. “We hope to give them tools to aid in their safety and success as they become independent. Gun handling and safety directly correlates to student safety outside of the school. The best way to prevent accidents is through exposure and education.”
The hunter education course will be part of the physical-education curriculum for seventh- and eighth-graders at North Butler and eighth-graders at Clarksville. The classes begin in February.
Students will learn about gun safety, hunting ethics, game laws, hunting equipment, wildlife conservation and more. All equipment and paperwork are provided throughout the week-long course. Parents can opt their children out of the course. High school students can enroll in an after-school hunter education class.
Both school districts considered after-school shooting-sports clubs, but decided the in-school hunter-safety courses will reach more students, and provide more education and information.
Justin Clark, Clarksville Community Board president, expects hunting-license sales to increase as more students learn about outdoor recreational opportunities. Increased sales of licenses and hunting gear will benefit Iowa’s wildlife and the outdoor community, thanks to federal excises taxes and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, aka the Pittman-Robertson Act.
Clark, Foster and Schroeder said community support has been tremendous, and feedback from students and parents has been positive.
The school district is pleased with the positive feedback it's received from the community. Photo Credit: Iowa Public Radio
Reporter Shannon Moudy with CBS2/FOX28 News interviewed Bruce Burroughs, who lives in Greene, Iowa, where the North Butler school district is located. Burroughs is happy the course was added and said, “It’ll save lives and it’ll teach people respect for weapons.”
Even so, the school board’s decision attracted nationwide attention, and some reports misconstrued the board’s intentions, Foster said.
“Misperceptions and political ‘interpretations’ have really changed our story nationwide,” he said. “It has been said that this is about ‘mandatory firearms training.’ That could not be further from the truth. This has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with keeping our students safe. We’re doing what we believe is best for our communities.”
Clark recommends other school districts poll their community and students to determine if a hunter-education course is appropriate. He thinks many communities will want to add the curriculum.