Firearm safety added to curriculum in two Iowa school districts

North Butler and Clarksville School Districts will start a mandatory hunters education course for their junior highs this spring. (Photo: KGAN)

GREENE, Iowa (KGAN) — Physical education in two eastern Iowa school districts will now include more than dodgeball and basketball. In the Clarksville and North Butler school districts, P.E. will now include a mandatory class on hunting safety.

Junior high students will have to take 10 hours of hunters education, starting this spring.

Superintendent Joel Foster, who spends time between both school districts, says the idea was brought up by a school board member nearly a year ago during a discussion on school safety. The two districts are partnering with Butler County Conservation to have trained instructors teach the week-long course.

The idea is to train students how to safely handle a firearm to prevent an accidental shooting in their homes or prevent major tragedy inside the schools.

“It’s not just about kids that are going to be hunters,” says Foster. “It’s about all kids learning how to handle a firearm in a safe manner. Any time that a kid might be exposed to a firearm they need to make sure they know how to handle it and make sure it’s safe.”

Foster says if a student were to find an unsecured, loaded gun, they should know how to safely handle the situation.

Conservation naturalist Steve Martin says they are happy to work with the school to teach not only firearm safety, but “ethics and personal responsibility.”

No live ammunition or firearms will be used in class; Martin says only inert weapons will be used in the classroom setting, though he adds students will have to take a field day as part of the course.

High school students will have the option to take a closed class on hunters safety, and parents can opt their children out of the course.

Foster says this is not meant to be a controversial or political move, but instead an educational opportunity for their students. He says he’s only received positive feedback so far, including from parents.

Bruce Burroughs, who lives in Greene where North Butler Jr./Sr. High is located, says he’s happy to see this course added. “It’ll save lives and it’ll teach people respect for weapons.”

Foster says in the short time since the announcement was made, he’s already had interest from across the country. "I received a phone call from a state representative in Vermont and he asked how we pushed it through because it's something he'd like to see happen out there,” he says. “I've got emails from teachers in other places that want to add it into their curriculum."

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