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Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN) works with public and private partners throughout Florida to get youth involved in traditional outdoor activities, including a focus on archery. Since FYCCN began in 2010, they have supported partners with programming and equipment to get youth outdoors and participating in these traditional activities. In 2015, they received an Explore Archery Grant from USA Archery to start 25 new Explore Archery Programs and supply them with membership and the Explore Archery book.
Kelly Miller of FYCCN commented, "The Explore Archery curriculum offers a variety of lessons and easy to follow guide. The Explore Archery curriculum is a great resource that allows instructors to easily build an interesting, educational and challenging day for all skill levels."
When USA Archery first partnered with FYCCN, we had certified six Level 2 Instructors, which quickly turned into nearly 200 Level 1 certified instructors, and since the implementation of the grant, there are now almost 400 USA Archery instructors in Florida and the number of Explore Archery programs has continued to grow.
Josh Gold, who worked with FYCCN before joining the Archery Trade Association, shared: "It is an all in one package," commented Gold. "An instructor could complete the certification course and then have a fun and informative 'ready to go' program for a variety of audiences and settings. For the participants, it is a fun program that keeps them engaged and coming back for more. It mixes it up and provides competition among participants in an enjoyable way while also improving their shooting abilities."
To help keep new archers involved in the sport after their first introduction, FYCCN provided information and programs for the instructors to offer. "We discussed in our certification courses additional options that they can provide the participants, either offering [coaching or JOAD programs] themselves or through partnering with others," added Gold. "We included program information on our website and tried connecting certified instructors with groups to work with and expand the programs they offered to keep the participants engaged."
Miller agreed that this practice has helped retention rates: "We've seen an increase in our partners continuing to offer archery programs. It's allowed the instructors and educators to feel more confident and equipped to expand programming."
To help other state organizations grow archery at the grassroots level, Miller also shared, "We find that making trainings affordable and easily accessible are two of our biggest strengths. Many of our partners are working with limited staff and limited budgets. In addition to the trainings, we've developed an extensive loaner program that allows sites to try equipment and activities before investing large amounts of resources."
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