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By Lane Stephens
Springtime in Florida. It’s a time of transition, from days spent in the woods hunting wild game to getting out on the water in search of our abundant freshwater or saltwater fish. Of course, we still have a little bit of turkey hunting to do, so that makes it an easy transition for many of us.
As we prepare for our days on the water, many of us have kids who will be eager to get behind the wheel of a boat. Or, in the case of us in inland Florida, they might want to operate the tiller handle of a 20 horsepower outboard. Either way, it’s time for a boater safety course. If your child was born on or after January 1, 1988, the course is mandatory if they want to operate a boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or larger.
There are many options available to your child and most of them cost money. The Florida Virtual School, however, offers a FREE alternative. It’s called the Outdoor Education Course.
In June 2013, when the course was just becoming available, I wrote about it on Outdoors Down South. The course combines the traditional Florida Boater Safety course and the Florida Hunter Safety courses, into a combined single course that is worth half a credit in Florida schools. It also counts as a P.E. credit and it meets Florida’s requirement that a child take a course online. It’s available to Florida public school, private school or home school students.
Since its inception, over 1,500 kids in Florida have completed the course and another 1,000 are currently enrolled. By exposing kids to both hunting and boater safety, we hope to increase the number of kids who are out on the water or in the field participating in a safe and responsible manner.
Please help spread the word that kids can go to www.flvs.net to sign up for the Outdoor Education Course. Remember, it is FREE! And, below is a link to a short video which explains the course in a little more detail.