Seven years ago, SCI entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with The Salvation Army Outdoors (TSAO) to partner in developing and delivering outdoor learning experiences to youth related to wildlife conservation education, shooting sports and hunting.
The partnership started near Detroit, MI at the Salvation Army‚Äôs Echo Grove Camp. Major Wandling, Salvation Army Youth Camp Director at the time, discovered Safari Club International. He made friends with SCI members, joined SCI as a member and ignited support and excitement within Salvation Army for conservation and hunting. Wandling is an avid bowhunter who wants to share this and more outdoor experiences with youth. He integrated SCI Foundation education programs into Salvation Army youth character development programs.¬†¬† In collaboration with the SCI Southeast Michigan Bow Hunter Chapter, Wandling developed hunter education camps at Echo Grove.¬†¬† SCI members and Pheasants Forever partnered in giving youth a mentored hunt. That was the beginning of a successful partnership.
SCI Foundation education staff developed education materials and training for Salvation Army Outdoors and provided training until the Army could assume training of its staff and youth participating in their programs. Sustaining this kind of youth program is dependent upon staff training and equipment. It is dependent upon TSAO‚Äôs commitment to redirect staff time toward the mission of this partnership.
To date, more than 500 TSAO staff nationwide are trained to teach wildlife conservation lessons. There are 250 TSAO staff trained to teach target archery and 39 trained to train instructors using the National Archery in the Schools Program.¬†¬† TSAO created and implemented Archery in the Park Leagues in Chicago, South Bend and Grand Rapids, MI. Twenty four TSAO staff are trained as instructors in Archery Trade Association‚Äôs Explore Bow hunting. ¬†Each January, TSAO and SCI Foundation staff engage in strategic planning for the sustainability of this important partnership. In the past year, this partnership reached 160,000 youth.
SCIF education staff developed a basic rifle curriculum (pellet guns) that is being used by TSAO to introduce firearms to youth.¬†¬† There are 94 TSAO instructors trained to teach basic rifle and four trained to train more instructors. TSAO facilitated 10 trainings in the past 12 months in three Salvation Army Territories.¬†¬† Major Cheri Hobbins, who directs the Salvation Army College for Officers, incorporated archery into the college curriculum.
Through this partnership, 10 to 15 TSAO youth program staff and TSAO officers participate in training at the SCIF American Wilderness Leadership School each summer.¬†¬† Their AWLS experience motivates them and gives them teaching tools they take back to their youth staff and programs.
Training staff is the key to a successful partnership program. Putting equipment into the hands of trained instructors is critical. More pellet gun kits, rifles, shotguns and archery equipment (bows, arrows, targets, 3D targets) is necessary to sustain the programs.
TSAO is in need of equipment for the many trained staff to use in passing on what they have learned to youth. You can help with a financial contribution. To donate or to learn more about how you can help next generations of youth learn science based wildlife conservation and become hunters and advocates for hunting, contact Sue Hankner, SCIF Director of Education, at [email protected] or 520-620-1220 ext. 294.–Veronica Kosich, Sables President