NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With hunting and archery programs in schools across the country — including Tennessee — at risk of losing federal funding, national lawmakers decided to get involved.
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) introduced the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act — cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) — after the Biden administration reportedly barred such programs from receiving federal education funding.
“We should encourage students to participate in enriching athletic activities that foster an appreciation for nature and the ability to focus on a goal, not discourage and defund them,” Green said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has since agreed to work with Congress to restore funding for extracurricular shooting sports in public schools, according to officials.
“ED recognizes the limits this language may place on certain enrichment opportunities with ESEA funding,” said a Department of Education spokesperson. “We are happy to provide technical assistance on legislative language to address this issue and restore allowability of ESEA funding for valuable enrichment opportunities for students, such as archery and hunter safety programs.”
Green said in another statement he is pleased the Department of Education is reevaluating its decision regarding funding for school shooting sports, but “it’s disappointing that widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle was the deciding factor for ED to change its mind instead of recognizing the positive impact of these extracurricular sports.”
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), which coordinates the program, said 73 of the 95 counties in the Volunteer State participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program. Officials said there are about 600 schools in the program, adding up to more than 50,000 students in grades four through 12 learning archery.
A spokesperson with the TWRA said the agency’s programming has yet to be affected.
“We will continue business as usual until such a time when or if we have a reason to adjust our course of action,” said Jason Harmon, manager of communications and outreach with the TWRA. “At this time we are looking into our current and available funding sources for the program to be ready in the event we need to adjust.”
To learn more about the National Archery in the Schools Program, check out the TWRA’s website.