Meet Travis Thompson, a true Floridian through and through. From his earliest days, he was immersed in a world of hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking, all thanks to his dad’s teachings. Travis chuckles as he refers to his family as “conservationists,” folks who went beyond the thrill of the hunt, genuinely caring for Florida’s wildlife, its waters, and the delicate balance of its ecosystems.
As the head honcho at All Florida, Travis wears his passion for the outdoors proudly. Recently, he weighed in on the eyebrow-raising move by the Biden administration – first nixing, then swiftly reinstating federal funds for hunting and fishing education programs after a surge of public outcry.
Back in July, the U.S. Department of Education under Biden raised eyebrows by cutting funds to programs focusing on the finer points of hunting and archery. Their rationale? The 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, they said, somehow prohibited taxpayer dollars from supporting these so-called “enrichment opportunities,” particularly if they involved wielding “dangerous weapons.” A bit perplexing, right? But the story doesn’t end there – the Department of Education backtracked, allowing Congress to give these programs a funding lifeline.
Travis’s gut reaction to the news? Disheartened, to say the least. He makes a solid point: life is riddled with risks, from getting behind the wheel to riding a bicycle. Safety is a priority across the board, and responsible handling of weaponry is a value we can all agree on.
Discussing the shifting tides of public opinion on hunting and archery, Travis highlighted a telling decline in acceptance over time, with a noticeable dip in 2022. He leaned on a survey from the Outdoor Stewards of Conservation Foundation that showed acceptance had slid from 81% in 2019 to 77% in 2023.
But what keeps Travis up at night is the fate of hunting and archery not just as pastimes, but as vital cogs in the conservation wheel. He underlines the undeniable connection between hunters, clean water, thriving habitats, and robust wildlife populations – all central to the North American conservation model.
He doesn’t mince words about state wildlife agencies – they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep hunting licenses alive and kicking. Travis knows that without the younger generation stepping in, America’s wild landscapes could take a hit.
For Travis, getting hunting education into schools isn’t just about building an army of new hunters. It’s about introducing young minds to the world of responsible hunting and the intricate dance of conservation.
He throws down the gauntlet to parents, educators, and policymakers alike: Do we want our kids hooked on video games, or do we want them casting lines and exploring the great outdoors?
As for the Department of Education, their response is still MIA. Both Democrats and Republicans had something to say when the funding cut news broke. A crew of 66 House GOP members voiced concern, along with Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester, and Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
In parting, Travis offers a plea to lawmakers: don’t let their community fade into obscurity. He urges them to recognize the vital role hunters play in the grand tapestry of conservation. For Travis, it’s all about retaining that identity – the heart of a conservationist wrapped in the spirit of a hunter. It’s this fusion that keeps our environment, our ecosystems, and our human connection to the wild intact.