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Things Today’s Kids May Never Know About

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I used to enjoy those various thought-provoking generational lists that annually make the rounds on email circuits and the Internet, lists of things or concepts that younger generations have never seen and can’t fully understand … like broken records, camera film, film negatives, and rotary-dial phones.  But that was before it became personal.

The shot across the bow (another concept becoming obsolete!) was the hunter education classes taught by NBCI Forestry Coordinator Mike Black.  He lamented late this summer that only a couple kids out of several dozen even knew what bobwhite quail were.  Most of the dads who were present knew, but not their kids.  I remember shaking our heads and pondering the grim state of things.  But still the reality didn’t sink in fully.

The sobering reality finally hit home last night.  My wife, Sheryl, came home after a frustrating day in her middle-school science lab.  She was struggling to convey some basic concepts of light, such as transmission and scattering.  Grasping for an obvious metaphor to illustrate what happens to light particles going through a translucent medium, she seized on a flushing covey of quail that scatters in all directions, rather than flying together in one direction.

The blank stares were followed quickly by a question from the students’ homeroom teacher, “What are quail?”  Neither the teacher nor any student in the class knew what a quail is.  Sheryl had to get out her field guide to show a picture, but by then her point was meaningless.

Kids today don’t have a clue what they are missing.  How can people miss what they have never known?  Who will strive to restore something they don’t miss?  The weight of bobwhite restoration seems to be falling on those of us with gray in our hair.

Don McKenzie

Former NBCI Director, Don McKenzie is a product of the deep South, steeped in its cultures of hunting, fried catfish, barbeque and SEC football. He survived an abrupt transition from hip boots in South Carolina to dark suits in Washington, DC as a professional wildlife advocate specializing in agriculture conservation policy.

During 6 ½ years in DC, he engaged the community of southeastern bobwhite quail biologists, and soon became their most active representative on federal conservation policy issues. McKenzie eventually arose as a national leader for what now is recognized as arguably the largest and most difficult wildlife conservation challenge of this era—restoring huntable and sustainable populations of wild bobwhites across much of their range. He was a facilitator and editor of the original “Northern (now “National”) Bobwhite Conservation Initiative,” published in 2002, and has been the national leader for implementing the initiative since 2004.