The Pryor Times

March 1, 2014

Grant to enhance outdoor education

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — Pryor school’s outdoor education facility is getting a $7,000 upgrade as result of an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Grant.

Pryor Public Schools Health and Wellness Coordinator Laura Holloway says the project will benefit all Pryor Schools as they will have an outdoor education facility.

“We have a piece of property behind the bus barn and we are wanting to enhance it partly so the Outdoor Education class can actually meet outdoors,” said Holloway. “And so all Pryor classes have a great outdoor place to go.”

The plan is to build a gazebo, greenhouse, benches and a wooden bridge, all considered “open-air classrooms” that can be used by any grade level.

As the property includes a small creek, the upgrade will hopefully create a walking trail, Holloway said.

“We have to preserve wildlife, so we are putting in a retention pond. We are working with Cartwright Weaver from the OSU extension office on that aspect,” said Holloway. “This will give students the chance to observe  ducks and other wildlife that land there.”

Outdoor Education is a class only offered to the freshman class at Pryor Junior High School, says course teacher Terry Gwartney.

“The concept of this class is to introduce students to the outdoors. The first, and maybe the most important, thing we do in outdoor education is get hunter safety certified,” said Gwartney.

Oklahoma Depar-tment of Wildlife Conservation is an advocate of outdoor education statewide.

“Not only do they issue and supply all the tests and study guides for hunter safety, they also provide many other resources such as the Explore Bowhunting Student Handbook and some of the rods and reels that we use while fishing in the spring. The Explore Bowhunting guide includes everything from tree stand safety to field dressing a successfully harvested deer,” Gwartney said.

He said archery is another major component of the course curriculum, particularly in the fall.

“Every student has the opportunity to shoot a bow. The bows used in class are the Matthews Genesis, the same bow we shoot when we compete at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) each spring,” Gwartney said.

After archery comes campfire cooking, Gwartney explained.

“After this is our campfire cooking session where students learn to start their own fire and cook a small meal for the entire class,” he said. “Also, in the fall, basics of survival skills are introduced and students learn how score whitetail deer according to the Boone and Crockett scale. The last thing learned in the fall semester is how to identify all waterfowl found in Oklahoma.”

Once archery competitions are over, the course switches its focus to fishing season.

“First, we learn to identify all sport fish that inhabit Oklahoma waters, their habitats, and what their food sources are so that we may have a better chance of catching them. At this time, statewide fishing regulations are taught so that when the students hit the water, they are legal,” said Gwartney.

“ Also during the spring semester, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is gracious enough to come to the class to teach youth boater registration. This certificate allows students between the ages of 12 and 16 to legally operate a boat of personal watercraft on the lake while under the supervision of an adult,” Gwartney said. “Other class activities include animal, plant, and tree identification. Students also learn knot tying, how to make juglines, and take fieldtrips where they will have the opportunity to shoot skeet and learn various other outdoor activities.”