If you haven't yet explored our Pioneers In Conservation page yet, please take a moment to at least watch the video there. Why? Because understanding the history of America's conservation programs can help us better understand and project the future of our conservation programs. The formula is pretty simple, really. When nobody funded hunting and fishing, people hunted and fished until populations were all but wiped out in many areas. Nobody regulated and managed those species then because there wasn't a funded agency or funding for management. Two prime examples are the billions of passenger pigeons that are now gone forever, or fish such as the Arctic grayling that once filled the cold water rivers in Michigan.
Let's decode this a little more. America's conservation programs are run by agencies and organizations. Those agencies and organizations are made up of teams of conservation professionals who have dedicated their careers to conservation of fish, wildlife and ecosystems. It costs a lot of money to run those agencies and employ those teams of conservation professionals. So where does all that money come from to fund conservation programs across the nation?
America's conservation programs are funded from two major sources; 1) fees paid by people who participate in various outdoor pursuits, such as anglers and hunters who buy licenses each year, 2) special "excise taxes" paid on certain items purchased for outdoors pursuits. So the bottom line is that if fewer people fish, hunt, and purchase related outdoor gear, there will be less and less money to fund the agencies and conservation programs that all Americans enjoy. To learn more about the details of funding of America's conservation programs, click on the LEARN MORE tab below.
It's somewhat of a "user pay" principle. Fewer outdoor people equates to less conservation funding, while more outdoor people means more funding for conservation programs. Of course there's one small twist in all this. Only about 5% of Americans hunt and only 10% fish. Yet this relatively small funding slice of society pays for the majority of conservation programs that 100% of all Americans get to enjoy. So to continue getting funding for conservation, Conservation Educators need to get more people interested and actually involved in outdoor pursuits. Their jobs combine being part educator, part salesperson, social media and promotional expert, and using a variety of public engagement programs that focus on something called "R3"... 1) Recruitment, 2) Retention, 3) Reactivation... of people who fish, hunt, trap, and participate in shooting sports and other key outdoor pursuits.
To discover how these Conservation Educators connect the public with the rewards of being actively involved in conservation related pursuits, watch the video here, and have your teacher conduct the lesson activities below so your entire class can share in understanding how conservation works for all of us to enjoy.
So are YOU interested in a career as a Conservation Educator or R3 Coordinator? If you're unsure, contact one in your state to learn more about all the things they do for the future of conservation programs.
This wildlife education program is made possible with support of these key educational partners. You and your teachers can link to their websites for additional information and educational opportunities.
At SCI Foundation’s American Wilderness Leadership School location in Jackson, Wyoming, educators and students learn about conservation, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation through outdoor, hands-on activities. Their Hands on Wildlife (HOW) program provides educators with conservation education instructional tools they can use in hands-on instruction.