By Thea Miller Ryan
The Outdoor Campus was given a few hefty goals in our new SD Game, Fish and Parks education plan. There were times we scratched our heads and had to put our bright orange hunter safety caps to come up with ideas to meet those goals.
One was to participate in Harvest SD, a program began in the last year to help develop introductory and advanced hunting and fishing clinics for individuals and families, taking participants from beginner to advanced skill sets. Harvest SD was a statewide program that was off to a good start. Jason and Sandy at The Outdoor Campus East upped our game with shooting classes, cooking classes and ways to bring local flavor and produce from field to plate. In Rapid City and Pierre, hunting classes were taking individuals from beginner to success in the field.
Sioux Falls had a unique dilemma, though. There were many urban youth and adults who had no experience in the outdoors, yet they wanted to put food on their family table and gain a better understanding of the whole food process – how it gets from a farm field to their plate. Derek Klawitter, Outdoor Campus East staff, had the expertise to make that happen. The program needed a name though. At the last minute, we threw it out there. What was going to happen? People were going to hunt with Derek. The name Hunting with Derek was given to the program, basically for lack of a better name, but it does sum up what happens.
It started at the gun range. Derek’s hand-picked students met him one-on-one to learn about guns, firearm safety, hunting ethics and how to shoot. Derek spoke with many landowners who agreed to participate in this new fun program. On the scheduled date and time, the students learned lifelong skills on their road to becoming a hunter. By sunset, almost every time, they had their first deer or turkey.
“I had a great time mentoring hunters and teaching them the knowledge base that I have, in hopes that they will become lifelong hunters and mentors themselves some day,” Derek said.
For more information or to get involved with this program, call Derek at The Outdoor Campus: 605.362.2777.