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The AWLS Experience

Philip Hartvig, Science Instructor at Ponderosa High School attended the AWLS program in Jackson, WI this year which SSC sponsored. Philip was kind enough to express his appreciation and share his experience with the chapter:

“To all concerned chapter members, My name is Philip Hartvig. I am a public High School Science Teacher from Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, California. I recently attended the American Wilderness Leadership School in Jackson Wyoming June 9-16, 2017. First, I would like to thank all those involved in making this opportunity available to me, and to all the staff and sponsors who helped make the experience as rich and educational as it was.

I went to this event as a novice to the entire hunting culture and its impact on wildlife conservation in the United States and internationally. I left the program with a new appreciation of the important role of education, discussion, hands-on activities and networking among educators from the entire country. It was a wonderful experience. Let me give you an outline of all the activities that I participated in during the program.

1. Class lectures and discussions on topics related to wildlife management and funding of conservation programs worldwide.

2. Lectures/discussions of wildlife ecology of selected species in the Wyoming region.

3. Hands-on activities in wilderness survival in teams (after a lecture presentation) where teams were set up to build a shelter, start a fire, and collect/boil water.

4. Hands on activities utilizing the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) curriculum. We learned how to teach archery in a safe and effective manner. We studied and passed a certification test. We practice on an archery course and a 3-D range in a wooded course. This was done in teams. Great learning experience!

5. Hands-on instruction in firearm safety and operation using air-powered pistols, Video-game simulations, shotguns, 22-caliber rifles and handguns. We also learned about cleaning and maintaining firearms. We followed a curriculum of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and received certificates for successful completion of their “First Steps Rifle Orientation” program.

6. We participated in a field trip to a location where we learned about sage grouse habitat conservation and research on migrations of pronghorn antelope and mule deer. This was occurring on both federal public land and on private land holding near Pinedale. We interacted with game wardens and geologists on public lands managed for mineral extraction (oil and natural gas) as well as wildlife conservation.

7. We participated in some group activities utilizing wildlife conservation curriculum including “Oh Deer” and “How many bears can live in this forest” These active, outdoor education activities are used in schools to teach concepts such as Limiting factors in a wildlife population, carrying capacity of a population, predator and prey interactions, and the role of hunting and other human factors in maintaining wildlife species.

8. To wrap up the week we had an exciting whitewater rafting trip that was a wonderful way to experience the “wilds” of Wyoming in a safe and community building activity. Everyone involved in putting it together was fantastic and the scenery was amazing.

This is a partial list of all the activities that we participated in during the week. It was very intense and information packed week. We had many spirited discussions and very informative lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities. I gained a greater appreciation for the sport of hunting and the role that the hunting community plays in the conservation of both our public and private wild lands and their associated wildlife species. Without the input and involvement of the hunting community, many natural habitats and species would be lost. I now have a more balanced view of the role of hunting in the conservation of our natural resources. Thank you again for the opportunity to attend the American Wilderness Leadership School.”

SSC is proud to introduce such experiences to our educators. If anyone knows of other Teachers or Administrators who may benefit from this introduction to conservation and hunting, please let us know at

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