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Lane Stephens is veteran lobbyist, nuisance gator trapper, and executive director of the Allied Sportsmen’s Association of Florida. Lane also works tirelessly to pass along his passion for hunting and fishing to a new generation of Floridians. I’m proud to say he’s a good friend of many years and I’m excited that he has agreed to be our first “guest blogger” on Outdoors Down South. Read on to find out about a great new program he conceived for the youth of our state.
Back in 1976, my family moved from “the country” to the big town of Blountstown, which is where I ultimately became friends with Jim McClellan. Although Jim was a few years younger than me, we had a common group of friends brought together by our church and by our love of the outdoors. Now, don’t get to thinking we were pillars of the community with our church attendance. We were there just enough to keep us out of trouble and our parents generally happy.
We also spent a lot of time on the Apalachicola River, fishing, skiing or hunting, depending upon the time of year. Needless to say, we didn’t have a lot of moss growing on our tires or props.
Being a small community, we all also attended the same public schools together. (There were no charter schools, academies or private schools in Blountstown.) And none of us back in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s ever thought that our kids would one day take classes online without ever having to attend in person.
Today, though, that is a common occurrence as tens of thousands of kids each year take classes through the Florida Virtual School (FLVS). And just recently, FLVS began offering a class that I’m sure Jim and I and all of our buddies who loved the outdoors would have signed up for immediately.
Students in Florida can now take an Outdoor Education course online.
Right now, many of you are thinking, “Where was this when I was growing up? That would have been an easy “A” for sure.” The sad truth is that a lot of kids today don’t have the same opportunities as we did, and that’s a shame. It’s also why it’s so important that we introduce them to the outdoors any way we can.
The Outdoor Education course combines the content of a boating safety course and a hunter safety course into a single half-credit course. For students in the public school system, the course also counts towards the physical education and on-line course requirements that are necessary for graduation.
After successfully completing the course, the student will receive a Boating Safety Education Identification card, and with just a little bit more work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the student will receive a Hunter Safety card.
Boating safety is required for anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, if you want to operate a boat with a 10 horsepower motor or larger. Hunter safety is mandatory for anyone born after June 1, 1975 who wants to purchase a hunting license in Florida.
Students signing up for the course must be 12 years old or older.
By the way folks, the course is FREE!! If you have a son or daughter, niece or nephew, or just a family friend, make sure you tell them about this great opportunity. If they attend a Florida public school, private school or are home-schooled in Florida, they can sign up and take the course. To learn more, visit Florida Virtual School at www.flvs.net.