Hunting, whether for sustenance or sport, has always been a part of West Virginias cultural landscape. Now, thanks to a grant from the R. K. Mellon Family Foundation, it will be a part of the Mountain States academic landscape as well.

John Edwards and James Anderson, assistant professors of wildlife and fisheries resources at West Virginia University, received $34,000 from the Foundation to develop a course,The Tradition of Hunting,to be offered first in the fall of 2004 by the Division of Forestry in WVU s Davis College.

As a boy growing up in the farm country of central Maryland, I developed a passion for wildlife and hunting that led me to a career as a wildlife educator,Edwards said.Throughout my journey, hunting was a constant. Time spent with my dad training bird dogs, shooting skeet, scouting for the upcoming season, and hunting provided the backdrop for many of the life lessons I learned as a boy.

Shortly after joining the faculty at WVU , Edwards considered developing a course on hunting as a way of giving back to a tradition that has been so prominent in his life. The R. K. Mellon Family Foundation grant has given Edwards and Anderson the time and resources to create a course they hope will draw students with diverse views on sport hunting.

I believe that this is a much needed course and one that could shape the perceptions of many non hunting, anti hunting and undecided students at WVU ,Edwards said.Although such a diverse group of students may fuel lively debates, I believe such diversity will be insightful in exploring how different segments of our society view sport hunting.

The impetus to teach a course on hunting comes from Edwards and Andersons desire to introduce students to the positive aspects of sport hunting, both from a wildlife management and societal aspect. The course will cover a broad range of topics including the evolution of hunting in society, hunting traditions, the role of hunting in wildlife management, hunting ethics, animal rights, gun control and the economics of hunting.

Although teaching another course in the fall may reduce our time spent hunting, we both believe that this is an important contribution to a traditional that we hold in such high regard,Edwards said.