Hunting and Fishing License Donations Aid in Youth Outdoor Education

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The program, sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington Wildlife Federation (WWF), allows each fisher and hunter to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation of a dollar or more toward youth outdoor programs when purchasing a recreational license.

"This outdoor education effort taps into the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm of outdoor groups to deliver quality, hands-on outdoor education to youngsters," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.

Last year, license purchasers contributed approximately $22,000 in donations.

The donated funds are used for outdoor education activities at schools, sport shows, fairs and other events. The activities offer skills training and experiences in fishing, shell fishing, hunting and target shooting. All donations, except for a small administrative fee, go directly to the Washington Wildlife Federation for outdoor education program grants.

The grants are awarded to members of the Washington Wildlife Coalition, the federation's education affiliate. The coalition, composed of 24 non-profit outdoor groups, have unified to provide outreach and education activities and events focusing on fishing, hunting, target shooting, back country use and habitat conservation.

Project grants, funded by license buyers' donations, have already been made to:

* North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers received $1,000 to help conduct the Sequim Kids Fishing Event involving 550 youth.

* C.A. S. T. for Kids Foundation was awarded $2,922 to the to help fund a Lake Washington Kids of Disability Fishing event that involved 50 children.

* Washington Hunter Education Instructor's Association received $6,089 toward the purchase and outfitting of a Firearms Safety Target Shooting Trailer to be used at hunter education classes, fairs, sport shows and other youth events.

* The Washington State Archery Association was awarded $2,400, and Evergreen Archers received $1,000, to purchase target archery shooting kit materials as part of the national Archery In the Schools program.

* Walleyes Unlimited was granted $2,350 to help fund the Colfax Fishing Kids Event, serving over 300 children.

* Campfire USA Lower Columbia Council received $1,755 to help fund a "Go Play Outside" field event at Camp Singing Wind near Toledo for 300 disadvantaged children and their families.

"Such outreach efforts provide kids outdoor experiences they might not otherwise have," said Bonnie Long, WDFW outdoor partnerships manager. "The coalition is committed to broadening kids' experiences in fishing, hunting education and first-time hunter opportunities."

"Participation in the youth outdoor education effort is a great way to invest in our children's and grandchildren's future," said Ray Wilson, Washington Wildlife Coalition coordinator.

Washington Wildlife Coalition member organizations include the Washington State Archery Association, Evergreen Archers, the Washington State Council of Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, Campfire USA (Lower Columbia Council), Richland Rod and Gun Club, Washington State Federation of Fly Fishers, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, National Wild Turkey Federation (Washington State Council), CAST for Kids Foundation, Natural Resources Youth Camp, Portland Safari Club International, Washington Hunter Education Instructor's Association, Woodland Park Zoo WildWise, Eyes In The Woods Association, Inc., Walleyes Unlimited, Washington Outfitters and Guides Association, North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers, Association of Washington School Principals, Washington State B.A.S.S. Federation, Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation, Kittitas County Field and Stream, Puget Sound Anglers (State) and the Spokane Walleye Club.