Just eight years ago, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation began the Oklahoma National Archery in Schools Program (OKNASP). Today 350 Oklahoma schools and more than 40,000 students participate in the program annually, and it is leading the way for an entire suite of outdoor education programs offered to schools by the Wildlife Department.

Wildlife Department officials say that schools across the state have been catching on to the program offerings and partnering with the Department as the programs’ popularity among students, teachers and administrators has continued to mount. Officials say the programs work toward building interest in a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors.

In addition to OKNASP the suite includes the Wildlife Department’s hunter education, Oklahoma Fishing in the Schools and Explore Bowhunting programs as well as a new scholastic shooting sports program. The Wildlife Department provides curriculum for all of the programs and even offers equipment grants for OKNASP (includes just over half of the $3,000 cost of the kit), Fishing in the Schools (includes $500 to cover all costs of equipment), and Explore Bowhunting (includes $2,000 to cover all costs of teaching kit, provided by the Archery Trade Association and distributed by the Wildlife Department). While all grants are obligated for the coming year, schools can still apply and be placed on a waiting list. Potential sponsors can fund a local school of their choice as well by calling Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, at (918) 299-6711.

“The Oklahoma National Archery in Schools Program was the spark that has led to these additional programs being offered to schools,” Berg said. “It was ‘true to its mark’ with administrators, teachers and students and is now in 350 schools across the state. Over the last three years, we have continued to add these additional programs to the list of offerings we have available for schools.”

Many schools are now offering all of the programs available in the suite.

Students who participate in OKNASP learn the fundamentals of basic target archery, but what really strikes a chord with every student is success they experience when their arrow thuds against the target for the very first time.

“That initial success clicks with a lot of students and drives them to succeed time and again, not only in archery but other classes,” said Berg.

Logo courtesy Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

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