BUFFALO, NY - There is a proposal that could make a unit on "hunting and fishing" a part of your High schooler's gym classes in New York State.
The bill, which has languished in Albany for a decade, has on occasion passed in the Senate, but never the Assembly, where Minority Leader Brian Kolb is a co- sponsor
"This is a pretty simple bill and something I think makes a lot of sense,” Kolb (R-Canandaigua) told WGRZ-TV.
The bill, if passed and signed into law, would call upon the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to help formulate ideas, for the State Department of Education to then refine into a curriculum, that could be taught as part of a unit on outdoor recreation in high school physical education classes.
Among other things, it would teach students:
- What are the various hunting and fishing seasons.
- What game and fish species can be taken
- How to get a hunting or fishing license
- And the history of hunting and fishing and its importance in the state’s development.
“A student, with this information, might not ever go hunting or fishing, but might develop leanings toward protecting the natural recourses we are so blessed to have in our state,” said Kolb. “This opens up a whole wide spectrum of knowledge and opportunities.”
"I think it's a good idea," said George Johnson of the Black Angler’s Association.
And though some might think it would be only appeal to rural districts, Johnson, a principle in the community activist group Buffalo United Front, Inc. on the city’s east side, begs to differ.
"All kids don’t like to play basketball. All kids don’t like to play football. Kids in our neighborhood don't get a chance to be exposed to those different things.”
Johnson cited the thousands of inner city kids who have partaken in the fishing and outdoor recreation activities his group has organized over the years.
“Some of these kids have actually broken down and cried because they never seen anything that spectacular in terms of different environments and so forth. So it would be very helpful to them."
The bill’s sponsors point to studies that show more kids are becoming obese due to their lack of activity, and believe this could at least make them more aware of the many outdoor recreational activities that exist for them in the state, which Kolb notes, the state spends considerable amounts of money and effort promoting.
“It would open their eyes and ears to more possibilities other than just using their handheld device throughout the day," Kolb said.
It would not be the first time the DEC has been asked to come up with educational concepts for schools.
The agency has contributed directly to several state science curriculums, including units on ecology, recycling, and green energy.
Nowhere is it proposed that kids be taught how to use a hunting rifle or gut a deer.
Nor would schools actually be required to have hunting and fishing as part of the Phys Ed. curriculum.
While schools have to meet physical education standards set by the state, they have some choice in what particular activities they teach and what resources they utilize to meet those standards.
According to one local Superintendent, it explains why some school districts offer Physical Education units on square dancing and archery, while others might offer things like yoga, and rock climbing along with a mix of more traditional sports and activities.