Among the clubs Hillsboro Middle School offers students every other Friday, the most popular aims to teach kids the importance of safety when hunting.
“I believe we started it in 1996,” sponsor Evan Yoder said. “(Leonard) Coryea and (Anne) Janzen and Becki (Yoder) help, and it’s definitely a popular club.”
The club went to Yoder’s farm Friday for a hayrack ride, to learn about pastures and hunting in them, and to see buffalo in their natural habitat.
“It was perfect weather for it,” Yoder said.
Another trip activity included walking through grass that was taller than they were.
“The native pasture is unbelievable,” Yoder said. “We had a contest to see who could find the tallest bluestem and the one I gathered was probably close to 8 feet. They tried, but no one could beat it.”
The club has 38 members, including 11 from Peabody-Burns Middle School.
“That’s kind of neat,” Yoder said. “They get to meet people their age from another school.”
The club practices with dummy guns to show the kids how the guns work while being safe.
“If kids are exposed to situations where there are guns present, we want them to know whether the people who have them are being safe,” Yoder said.
Another planned event is a visit from a hunter from Sterling who will bring a computer simulation program to give kids the chance to work on what they have learned.
“It gives them an opportunity to see what that would look like in the wild, and he will also talk about gun safety,” Yoder said.
The kids also will be able to show what they have learned toward the end of November when the club takes a trip to Peabody Country Club to participate in a course.
“We’ll set up various pop-ups and other things,” Yoder said. “Kids will practice what they’ve learned and we’ll see if they’re showing that they’ve learned how to properly handle firearms safely. Then we have a test the second Friday in December, and hopefully they get their cards and some goodies to take home with them.”
To gain their hunter safety cards, Yoder said they have to have at least 10 hours of instruction; the club provides 12 to 14.
“I think many of them would never get the opportunity to take a hunter safety course unless it was offered the way this was offered,” Yoder said. “They may never hunt, but if they’re around a boyfriend or girlfriend down the road who do, they’ll have the knowledge to know if they’re being safe or not and maybe save a life.”