Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Launches Next Generation of Online Hunter Education

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Introduction of new Virtual Field Day takes online-only courses to the next level

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We worked with HUNTERcourse.com to develop the Virtual Field Day as a way to ensure that the adult online-only students get the chance to practice decision making in realistic hunting situations. - Capt. Jon Paurus DNR ENF Education Coordinator

This fall, hunter education students in Minnesota who are older than 18 years of age will have the opportunity to test the future of online hunter education. Developed in partnership with industry leader HUNTERcourse.com, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) has introduced an upgraded, fully featured Virtual Field Day as part of its online-only hunter education course.

This Virtual Field Day is a significant upgrade to the previous version used by online adult hunter safety students in Minnesota. Combining an interactive field day map, video scenarios, and interactive testing situations, the Virtual Field Day replaces the instructor-led, hands-on field day that has come to be a staple of online hunter education, and which is still required for students under 18 years of age. Adult students will still have the option to take part in a live, instructor-led field day if they choose.

“While the combination of online and hands-on learning is a great format, our state partners are increasingly exploring online options for older students,” said Kerry Moher, VP at Fresh Air Educators, the makers of HUNTERcourse.com. “Minnesota has been leading the way in looking for ways to make the online experience as realistic and robust as possible.”

One reason agencies have been looking to online courses is the lack of available spots in instructor-led field days. Every year, students who have completed the online portion of their course cannot find an in-person field day to complete their certification. Although the MN DNR is working to add field days by identifying and developing new shooting ranges, allowing older students to complete online-only courses frees up space for younger students who may benefit most from the hands on instruction.

“The challenge is finding ways to accommodate more students, while also ensuring a consistently high level of certification,” said Capt. Jon Paurus DNR ENF Education Coordinator. “We worked with HUNTERcourse.com to develop the Virtual Field Day as a way to ensure that the adult online-only students get the chance to practice decision making in realistic hunting situations. We’ve discovered that the online course has also opened up opportunities for women and other individuals to educate themselves on hunting and firearms safety in an environment that may be more suitable than a traditional classroom setting.”

For over a decade, online education has been helping reduce barriers to safety certifications in outdoor recreation activities such as power boating and hunting, and the Virtual Field Day is the next step in this evolution.

“Minnesota is one of the world’s recognized leaders in the field of hunter education and we feel privileged to have been able to work with their team to develop this groundbreaking tool,” continued Moher. “We have already heard from other states who want to add the Virtual Field Day to their online-only course.”

Fresh Air Educators™ is North America’s leading provider of online outdoor education. Fresh Air Educators offers boater, hunter, ATV, and snowmobile safety courses through BOATERexam.com, HUNTERcourse.com, ATVcourse.com, and SNOWMOBILEcourse.com.

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Kerry Moher, VP of Business Development
Fresh Air Educators
+1 877-722-8838 Ext: 222
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since: 09/2008
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