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Contact: Gary Hagler, 517-284-5992 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815
Agency: Natural Resources
Aug. 21, 2015

Monday, Aug. 24, 38 Detroit-area youth and young adults will graduate from the inaugural Michigan Department of Natural Resources Youth Conservation Academy. The ceremony will be held at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in downtown Detroit.

The last session of the six-week natural resources-based academy begins at 10 a.m. and culminates with the 2 p.m. presentation of academy graduation certificates by DNR Director Keith Creagh, DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler and DNR Conservation Officer Sgt. Damon Owens.

During the final session, students will have the opportunity to engage in shooting sports exercises, including laser shot – using a firearm that shoots only a beam at a screen – and shooting paper targets on a BB-gun range, which uses students’ previous safety training. They also will discuss participation in a potential Detroit-area Youth Conservation Club and offer input on future DNR Youth Conservation Academies.

“The academy was developed to introduce natural resources conservation and management to Detroit-area youth and young adults,” said Hagler, who organized the academy. “Through knowledge and hands-on experiences offered through these classes, our goal is to empower students to broaden their engagement in natural resources and kindle an interest in exploring DNR career opportunities.”

Throughout the academy, held Mondays from July 20 to Aug. 24, students learned about the many facets of the DNR and natural resources career opportunities available, including law enforcement, forestry, marketing and outreach, minerals management, wildlife, fisheries, parks and recreation, and historical resources.

In addition to classroom instruction, the students engaged in many hands-on learning activities at the Outdoor Adventure Center and Belle Isle Park, such as archery, seining (using netting to capture fish that were later released alive), snowmobiling using a simulator, starting a camp fire during survival training and much more.

During session five Aug. 17, the students completed a Michigan hunter education safety class, earning their Michigan hunter education safety certificates and, with these certificates, the opportunity to hunt in Michigan. The day involved review of the hunter education student manual, participation in laser shot and safe firearm handling exercises and completion of at written test.

Students were selected for the classes from three Detroit-based Summer Youth Employment Initiative groups, including The Youth Connection, Inc., Healthy Kidz, Inc. and Urban Neighborhood Initiatives. Established mentors and supervisors from these groups supported the youth and young adults throughout the academy. Future academies will solicit participation through an application process.

For the complete academy schedule and past session blogs and photos, visit www.michigan.gov/dnreducation. Click on Youth Conservation Academy 2015.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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