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Outdoor Skills & Wildlife Education Programs

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The Division of Fisheries & Wildlife offers a wide range of educational and skills programs. With suitable lead time, programs can be adapted to the needs of virtually any group.

Hunter Education Program: Provides courses in the safe handling of firearms, and other outdoor activities related to hunting and firearm use. Designed for novices, courses in Basic Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, Trapper Education and others are offered statewide throughout the year. Certificates in certain courses satisfy hunting license requirements for Massachusetts as well as other states and Canadian provinces. For more information, call (978) 772-0693.

Angler Education Program: Teaches people of all ages, especially children, about fish and their environment. The program focuses on freshwater fishing skills, basic safety techniques, outdoor ethics, and aquatic ecology through workshop sessions and through family fishing festivals. For more information, call (508) 389-6309.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman: This is a program for women ages 18 and up which introduces them to outdoor skills in a safe, friendly, and non-competitive environment. It provides a venue to learn skills related to fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking under the guidance of expert instructors. There is one full weekend of activities plus many single-day events providing an opportunity to sample activities from archery to wildlife photography and from kayaking to fly-fishing. Notices are sent through an e-mail distribution network. To get on the mailing list visit the Division’s website and follow the prompts to the education area. For more information, call (508) 389-6305.

Mass. Junior Conservation Camp: A two week residential program for boys and girls ages 13–17 which provides a solid grounding in outdoor activities and skills. Participants learn about fisheries, wildlife, forestry, camping, and gain proficiency in the use of shotgun, rifle, archery equipment, map and compass, and more. Participants also complete the state’s Basic Hunter Education and Boat Safety programs. Program is held in August.

Project WILD: Interdisciplinary, hands-on workshops for educators of K-12 students focusing on terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and ecosystems. Encourages problem-solving and decision-making skills concerning the environment. Scout leaders, youth group leaders, homeschoolers, and both formal and non-formal educators find the materials and workshop valuable. Hours spent may be used toward obtaining PDPs. For more information, call (508) 389-6310.

Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children is an early childhood education activity guide that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. Through a wide range of activities and experiences, it provides a foundation for developing positive impressions about nature. For professional development workshop information call (508) 389-6310.

Junior Duck Stamp Program: Connecting Children with Nature through the Arts. Students in grades K-12 participate in a dynamic art and science education program designed to teach wetland habitat and waterfowl conservation. Artists communicate visually what they have learned by creating an entry for the JDS contest. Download guidelines and entry form at Co-sponsored by the USFWS, Massachusetts Waterfowlers and the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation. For more information, call (508) 389-6310.

Special Opportunities for Young Hunters

The traditions and values of hunting and our outdoor heritage were and are an integral part of sustaining our conservation ethic. However, changes in lifestyles, leisure time, family activities, and access to the outdoors present significant challenges to passing this heritage on to future generations.

Young people today do not have the same opportunities to shoot or hunt as did the youth of a generation ago. The days of walking down the road to the nearby farm or woodlot to hunt after school are all but gone except in the most rural communities. Many youth growing up in urban or suburban communities do not have access to suitable hunting lands and many grow up in families that lack the outdoor skills and knowledge that they seek. Not only are opportunities for youth to learn and access open areas limited, but there are many competing options for ways to spend their limited leisure time including the internet, video games, organized sports and school activities.

For these reasons, the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife has joined in partnership with sportsmen’s clubs across the state and with such conservation organizations as the National Wild Turkey Federation to offer special hunting opportunities for young hunters.

Sportsmen’s clubs, working through their membership and, in the case of the Youth Turkey Hunt, working with members of the MA chapter of NWTF, conduct multiple day program workshops leading up to an actual hunt in which each participant hunts under the watchful eye of a mentor. The participating clubs conduct the programs and the DFW provides the necessary training materials as well as a hunting safety kit for each participant. These programs are open to any club or organization wishing to participate. There are no fees for participation.

Youth Pheasant Hunt: This is a complete program that includes:

  • Instruction on firearms safety in the field.
  • Safe, supervised shooting instruction and practice prior to a hunt.
  • Lessons on hunting ethics and behavior.
  • Training on hunting regulations and safety.
  • Instruction on how to clean and prepare game.
  • A safe, supervised hunt under the guidance of an experienced, responsible adult hunter.
  • Application of field techniques learned in the hunter education course.
  • Programs are offered through sportsmen’s clubs throughout the state.

Youth Pheasant Hunts may be conducted on one of the six Saturdays prior to the start of the regular pheasant hunting season. In 2011 these will be the six Saturdays prior to October 15, 2011.

Youth Turkey Hunt: The youth turkey hunting program was developed through a partnership between MassWildlife, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and participating sportsmen’s clubs across the state. In order to participate in the mentored youth turkey hunt, youths age 12–17 must attend and successfully complete a pre-hunt youth turkey program workshop. This is an all encompassing educational workshop that stresses firearm and hunting safety, turkey hunting techniques, equipment, regulations, ethics and sportsmanship. Youth hunt workshops are held at various sportsmen’s clubs. After completion of the pre-hunt workshop, a special permit will be issued to the participating youths that allows for a mentored hunt on the Saturday prior to the last Monday in April (regular spring turkey season opening date). To find a participating sportsmen club or for more information, call your local club or check the MassWildlife website , and click on “Education.”

Youth Waterfowl Hunt: Two days are set aside prior to the waterfowl hunting seasons especially for young hunters ages 12–15. All youth must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with a valid Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. The young hunter and accompanying adult may have only one firearm between them. The adult may not hunt and may carry the firearm only when it is unloaded and cased. No license or stamp needed for youths ages 12–14. License and Massachusetts waterfowl stamp needed for youths age 15. No federal stamp required. All other hunting restrictions apply.


Archery in the Schools

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The National Archery in the Schools Program is an international style target shooting program for students in grades 4–12 that can improve students’ self confidence, motivation, behavior, concentration, focus, and interest in going to school. Taught through PE departments, the program also highlights social studies, physics, and mathematics. This is a partnership between the DFW, National Archery in the Schools, the Archery Trade Assn. and local schools. There are currently 10 pilot schools in Massachusetts. For more information about NASP contact Tom O’Shea at (508) 389-6327 or by email at tom.o’


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