Tag Archives: teaching

A non-hunter’s guide to hunting

You may be wondering how regulated hunting contributes to conservation, the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and if it’s a sustainable practice.

Let’s start with the mission of the Service: working with others to conserve, enhance, and protect fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. A key component enabling the Service to carry out their mission is conserving and enhancing habitat, managed under the National Wildlife Refuge System. The purchase of federal duck stamps, required by all waterfowl hunters, provides the funding needed to conserve new lands, enhancing opportunities for outdoor activities where people can connect with nature.

Outdoor opportunities, including regulated hunting, are among the benefits people enjoy through the work of federal and state partnerships. For many, hunting is a family activity that transcends generations. Many feel hunting not only teaches the value and importance of wildlife conservation, but teaches imperative life lessons such as patience, respect, solitude, and self-awareness. Scott Kahan, Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, for example, feels hunting is an important way to reconnect with nature and spend quality time with his two sons. He writes, “I will cherish the opportunity to get out in the woods to hunt with my sons and reconnect with those things that are truly important to me.”

Scott Kahan and his son at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota.

So how do hunters contribute to the Service’s mission to conserve, enhance, and protect wildlife? First, biologists study and monitor the populations of wildlife species that are hunted to ensure populations are sustainable and healthy, while law enforcement officers ensure that regulations are being followed by hunters. In some areas, populations of game species can become overabundant, limiting the amount of suitable habitat available for other wildlife. In these situations, hunting contributes to the conservation, enhancement, and longevity of habitat for all wildlife through the regulated take of an overabundant species.

A meat processor participating in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest Program.

In addition to conservation benefits, hunting is a sustainable way to provide food for your family. Alternatively, if you enjoy hunting and have game meat to share, you can supply nutritious food for over 200 people by donating a single deer! Programs such as “Hunters Helping the Hungry” in New Jersey and “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” in Pennsylvania, allow hunters to donate their harvest to help feed those in need. Even if you are unsuccessful in harvesting a deer, you still had the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with family and friends, and participate in a wildlife-dependent activity!

Pennsylvania’s pheasant propagation program provides enhanced hunting opportunities for junior hunters. Photo by Hal Korber.

Are you interested in learning how to hunt? To obtain a hunting license, a prospective hunter must participate in and pass a hunter’s education course. These courses are funded by the Service through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and are carried out by state agencies, and are designed to teach students to be safe, responsible, and conservation-minded hunters. Many programs are specifically designed for youth hunters, such as the Pennsylvania Junior Pheasant Hunt Program, where young hunters are guided by an experienced mentor throughout the hunt.

For experienced hunters who wish to expand their hunting knowledge, many states offer advanced hunting courses. For example, Vermont offers advanced hunting courses focusing on hunting Vermont black bears, white-tailed deer tracking and processing, and small game hunting with dogs.

Learn more about hunting on public lands here.

Click here to learn more about hunting on national wildlife refuges.

For links to state fish and wildlife agencies, click here.

That's me, Bethany, giving the Great Migration Challenge activity instructions. Credit: USFWS

Migration — It’s risky business!

I'm Bethany Holbrook, and I work at our New York Field Office. You'll be hearing from me every week! Stay tuned for tales from the great state of New York. USFWS photo with Bethany holding a bog turtle

I’m Bethany Holbrook, and I work at our New York Field Office. You’ll be hearing from me every week! Stay tuned for tales from the great state of New York.

Have you ever wished you were a bird, just to know what it would be like to truly fly? Do you like to “migrate” from the cold New York winters to warmer southern weather?

If you answered yes, then you would have enjoyed spending the day with me and over 270 sixth graders who learned about bird migration at the Cortland Conservation Field Days at the end of September.

The event pulled in 15 different conservation educators to prepare 20-minute programs for student groups at the 4H Camp Owahta in McGraw, N.Y.

Students from 10 Cortland County schools spent the day cycling through stations listening to presentations about topics like wetlands, food, wildlife, forests, orienteering, composting, and much more.

At our New York Field Office station, students learned about the “helps and hazards” associated with migration in an activity called the Great Migration Challenge.

Students thought and acted like birds by following a series of cards that took them on a migration route of their own.

That's me, Bethany, giving the Great Migration Challenge activity instructions. Credit: USFWS

That’s me, Bethany, giving the Great Migration Challenge activity instructions. Credit: USFWS

Here’s how it worked:

The Great Migration Challenge activity instructions. Photo credit: USFWS

The Great Migration Challenge activity instructions. Photo credit: USFWS

  • Each student selects a partner and a bird as which they’ll act.
  • Students start their migration journey by rolling a die to direct them to one of the 24 stations set up around the room, each with a different activity card. Each card explains a scenario, and then directs students to the next stop on their migration journey. One card read, “You get tangled in fishing line and can’t eat. You are weak from hunger. A wildlife rehabilitator cuts the line and feeds you. Hop on 1 leg in a circle, count to 40, then move ahead 4 stations.”
  • Students continue selecting cards and moving to the appropriate station until they reach a station that either kills the bird (disease, guns, cats, etc.) or sends it to the finish after reaching the migration destination.
  • After, students rejoin the rest of the class and discuss the factors that helped them on their migration journeys, as well as others that were hazardous to their journeys.

The kids enjoyed the program because they were able to jump, run, and act silly, while the teachers enjoyed the program because it provided students with a hands-on way to learn (and get their energy out!).


Students picked one of the bird cards, and when they were finished with their journey, an instructor helped fill in the results chart shown here.

Interested in the activity? Find the instructions and all necessary materials in the attached PDFs from the Flying Wild Educator’s Guide. Visit the Flying Wild website to find additional resources.

Great Migration Challenge materials: