University of Arkansas PB Class Introduces Students to Outdoor Recreation  

UAPB class introduces students to outdoor recreation
UAPB class introduces students to outdoor recreation

Pine Bluff -( Most Arkansans cut their teeth on hunting, fishing, canoeing and other outdoor endeavors through teaching by parents or perhaps grandparents.

For a few dozen students at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, these introductions come in a classroom.

They learn to cast a fishing lure, to tie a hook to a line, to paddle a canoe, to shoot an arrow from a bow. And they do these things to meet the requirements of Professor LaTraia Jones’ Outdoor Recreation course, a junior-senior level offering at UAPB.

Jones quietly confides that his students are not the only ones learning new activities in the class. He learns as well. “Everyone was pulling out cell phones and taking photos when I climbed into a canoe,” he said.

Jones makes considerable use of a resource close to the UAPB campus – the Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The facility’s staff often lends a hand with teaching specific skills in addition to offering a place where students can practice what they learn in the classroom. Walking the trail at the center is regular feature, enlivened a bit when a snake is on the trail.

AGFC Boating Education cards are issued after students complete several segments of the course, and one student made use of this on a visit to the Gulf Coast. Jones said, “He wanted to rent a Jet Ski, and they asked, ‘Do you know how to operate this’? He pulled out his card from our class and waved it at them.”

These Boating Education cards have another purpose. They are items for adding on a student’s resume when seeking employment.

Jones said, “We have had 15 of our graduates go to work for the National Park Service. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be at our career day this year to talk to students about internships.”

This semester, the Outdoor Recreation class has 38 students, larger than usual. But Jones said he can manage it with the help of Eric Maynard, Brett Crow and other staffers at the Pine Bluff nature center.

Maynard said, “You’ve got 38 students. We can handle them in archery here at our place. We’ve got indoor space for archery.”

Jones said, “Don Scott learned archery in our class last year. He is 6’2”, 300 pounds, and now he has taken up bow hunting.” Another student, Thomas Hass, has become an enthusiastic fisherman as well as getting into duck hunting since he studied Outdoor Recreation