Valley City’s National Fish Hatchery played host to two National Archery in the Schools Program training sessions Thursday and again Friday, led by Jeffrey Long, an employee of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and coordinator of the state program.
About 10 people were in Thursday’s session, and 12 were expected Friday, Long said.
Long’s students included Valley City State University students, a Boy Scout leader, and teachers from Freedom Elementary School and the Circle of Nations school in Wahpeton.
“It’s two separate day-long classes. A lot signed up. Both had 12 or more,” Long said.
Long has taught the training sessions before, but the Valley City experience was unique. “It’s kind of a cool, diverse mix. It’s kind of cool to have college students, Boy Scouts and teachers.”
Kurt Eversman, manager of the National Fish Hatchery, also went through the training sessions, but he was preparing to teach other archery instructors and not just students.
“I’m learning to become a trainer – most students are learning to teach archery students,” Eversman said.
Sponsoring the archery training sessions is part of Eversman’s mission to make the fish hatchery more of a public destination, and not just a place to raise fish for stocking lakes and streams.
He hopes to make archery classes a regular feature of the fish hatchery.
Eversman said he will be able to provide training “to help college kids and help with their careers – help them with a skill set.”
Eversman said archery training might seem “kind of out there for a fish hatchery, but that’s where we (the fish hatchery) have to go.”
Thursday’s training session started at 7:45 a.m. and ran until 4 p.m., and was expected to operate the same hours Friday.
Said Eversman, “It’s quite a diverse group – I’ve been trying to put it together since July.”
Archery equipment used for the training session belongs to the fish hatchery, provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Lunch will be included both days, “and the hatchery will absorb the costs.”
Said Eversman, “the event will allow us to have folks certified to teach archery.”
Eversman said he wants the hatchery to assist local Boy Scouts with archery events, and VCSU with its Junior Naturalists Program, which will put on a Junior Naturalists archery shoot.
Eversman said he also wants to assist the indoor Barnes County Wildlife archery program with use of hatchery archery equipment. That program operates at the city auditorium.
“We didn’t lobby for equipment to not see it used – I don’t want it to collect dust,” Eversman said.
“The (U.S. Fish and Wildlife) Service has a youth initiative to connect young people with the outdoors, off video games and get them out to nature.”
“We want to connect or engage the community with what we have going on here. We are a community resource. This is your (Valley City’s) fish hatchery here.”