WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 13, 2023) — The National Wildlife Federation and more than 30 of its affiliates urged Congress to swiftly enact a bipartisan legislative solution to ensure that schools can continue to access Department of Education funding for archery and hunter safety education. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and others crafted common-sense language to be included in an upcoming funding bill, mirroring a similar effort by numerous House leaders.
“Hunter education and archery programs in schools provide students an opportunity to learn about firearms and hunting safety while building the next generation of conservationists with a passion for the outdoors,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Thank you to Senator Tester for working with Senators Murkowski, Casey, and Collins to quickly introduce a bipartisan solution that ensures youth and schools do not inadvertently lose access to outdoor recreation and hunter education.”
In a letter to Congressional leaders, the conservation organizations noted that language in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act “has had the unintended consequence of prohibiting the Department of Education from allowing the use of Elementary and Secondary Education Act funding for hunter education, firearm safety, and archery classes in schools. In response, schools across the nation are now faced with the prospect of eliminating these programs and, in turn, cutting children off from vital connections to the outdoors.”
The letter also noted the importance of these hunter education programs to foster future conservationists. “For decades, children in communities across the nation have fallen in love with the outdoors through programs that have taught them about wildlife management, firearm and archery safety, and the tradition of conservation that guides and informs these pursuits.”
The following organizations signed the letter: Alabama Wildlife Federation, Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Colorado Wildlife Federation, Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma, Conservation Council for Hawai’i, Conservation Federation of Missouri, Conservation Northwest, Georgia Wildlife Federation, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Iowa Wildlife Federation, Kansas Wildlife Federation, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Mississippi Wildlife Federation, Montana Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Nevada Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, North Dakota Wildlife Federation, Ohio Conservation Federation, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, South Dakota Wildlife Federation, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Texas Conservation Alliance, Utah Wildlife Federation, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.