I t’s faintly obvious that this magazine operates in an industry that depends on the continuing active interest of people who engage in the sports of fishing and hunting. And logic dictates that because human beings do not live forever, any industry catering to a human customer base must attract younger customers or that industry will suffer the same mortality as its customers.
This recruit-or-die reality is especially harsh for industries serving special interests such as fishing and hunting. If the populations of succeeding generations fail to show interest, the industries whither. So, in addition to collectively fighting the struggles against all the other factors that challenge the survival of businesses linked together as an “industry,” those businesses and the associations created to support them must engage in efforts to attract new blood.
The fishing industry has mounted several noble campaigns over the years to promote recruitment, the most famous being “Take a Kid Fishing.” The hunting industry in conjunction with several states, Texas among the most prominent, has promoted special youth seasons and other programs to introduce kids to the sport.
Here at Texas Fish & Game, we have been quietly conducting a program we’re very proud of and which we feel is unique, especially given our relative size in the overall scope of the national fishing and hunting media universe. And we’ve done it for the better part of a generation.
Since 1990, we have provided classroom subscription programs to teachers of a very special course taught in agriculture departments in Texas high schools. The course—Wildlife, Fisheries, and Ecology Management—started with a bang, almost instantly becoming one of the most popular classes in Ag Science history. Thanks in part to the class also including the mandatory hunter safety certification, it also attracted thousands of non-ag students.
At first, teachers used Texas Fish & Game issues as a primary teaching source because they simply had no text books for the new class. As the program evolved, our issues continued to provide them with supplemental material and as a sure-fire method to engage student interest in special projects.
Now that our digital editions provide a wealth of features not possible in print—such as videos, slide shows and other interactive tools—our issues have become even more useful to teachers. An increasing number of schools now provide students with tablets or individual computer access. In the schools that don’t, almost every kid has a smart phone. This technology, and our long-standing partnership with teachers (many of whom were themselves students in this course, using Texas Fish & Game), gives us a powerful connection to tens of thousands of students. This year, we will reach more than 40,000 students in 600 Texas high schools.
This is a prime opportunity to build the interest of future anglers and hunters, and we are committed to taking full advantage of it. In Texas, we are doing everything we can to promote a secure future for fishing and hunting.