The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently received a donation of $739,000 to support its new scholastic shooting sports program to be implemented in Oklahoma schools. The donation comes from the Brenda Potterfield Trust, and individual schools involved in the program will receive an endowed trust fund through the Midway USA Foundation, Inc. The Midway USA Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating the shooting sports.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission heard a presentation on the donation as well as the Department’s developing shooting sports program at its August meeting.

Due in part to recent success of USA Olympic shotgun programs, competitive high school and college shooting sports have increased in popularity. Oklahoma’s new program will be piloted this year with schools that are involved in other Wildlife Department education programs. The Wildlife Department will provide these schools with equipment kits that consist of target throwers, gun safes, clay targets and  hearing and eye protection. The equipment kits will be funded in part by the Department and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI), a group dedicated to sportsmen and conservation.

The $739,000 donation from the Potterfield Trust will be used primarily to help fund the Scholastic Shooting Trust, which is owned and controlled by the Midway USA Foundation. Participating Oklahoma schools will be set up with an account within the Scholastic Shooting Trust, with which they can buy ammunition, safety supplies, clay targets and team uniforms or pay range fees for their programs.

According to Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, the goal will be to train 50 schools by the end of the upcoming school year, with a plan to grow to 155 schools by 2016.

“The donation from the Potterfield family is significant in so many ways,” Berg said. “Not only will it help participating schools to hit the ground running in our new scholastic shooting sports program, but it will help pave the way for students to become more interested in conservation. Students who participate in this program will also be participating throughout the school year in the Department’s other programs, such as Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools, Fishing in the Schools, Hunter Education and Explore Bowhunting. As a result, they will already have a growing interest in the outdoors and conservation by the time they hold a shotgun in their hands in this program. From there, we hope they’ll take interest in getting a hunting or fishing license and become conservationists.”

While proceeds from the trust fund investments can be used by the schools to purchase shooting supplies, some of the donation will be used to defray expenses for the 2013 state shoot to be held Nov. 20, 2013 among the program’s piloting schools.

Logo courtesy Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

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