Local Kennedale Teacher Recognized as Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation's 2017 Educator of the Year
Jan 13, 2017 03:23PM
By Melanie Heisinger
Danny Wilcox with wife Kerry, daughter Megan, and the cast of North Woods Law, a nationally broadcast TV show.
The Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation recently recognized Danny for his accomplishment by awarding him the Educator of the Year Award. This event took place on January 6th, 2017 where he received the award along with their Principal, Justin Marchel, and ACE coordinator Logan Barrett. It took place at the Omni Hotel in Dallas during the Dallas Safari Club Annual Convention.
The Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation (OTF), formerly the Dallas Ecological Foundation (DEF), allows the Outdoor Adventures program, started by the DEF, to go nationwide. Their ultimate goal is to give every child in America the opportunity to experience what the Outdoor Adventures program is all about.
For Danny, "It is all about helping kids."
We were able to get in touch with Danny Wilcox, as well as Scot McClure, the Outdoor Adventures Coordinator for the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, and learn more about the great things they both are doing to bring the outdoors to kids all around the nation, as well as the local Kennedale area.
The implementation of this program into the Kennedale area and surrounding communities area is sure to bring positive results. It's so important to ensure the children get outdoors and learn to appreciate it as something valuable. The OTF program is already TEKS-based to fit any public schools PE or AG programs. Danny and Scot both hope that this program reaches national recognition, and is also incredibly grateful to land the Educator of the Year Award.
Tell us a little about the yourself. Have you always had a passion for education?
Danny Wilcox: This is my 20th year in the education profession, and 5th at Kennedale High School. These past 5 years at Kennedale have been incredibly fun! Kennedale has a strong tradition in athletics and academics. Our science department was awarded the highest distinction given to a public school last year. We have incorporated the Outdoor Adventures curriculum by the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation the past three years and it has been incredibly popular amongst our student body and community.
Scot McClure: Yes, I taught secondary science at Coppell and Argyle High School for 20 years. The last 10 years I taught the Outdoor Adventures course and love educating youth about the great outdoors.
Tell us a little bit about the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation. What makes it important?
Danny Wilcox: The OTF is important because it provides a curriculum geared towards conservation, hunter and boater safety, and other outdoor activities. In today's world, it is important for kids to get exposure to outdoor activities. These are things they can take home and use with their families now and in the future. These lifetime activities are giving kids of every ethnicity the opportunity to not only learn new things, but to also compete against students from other schools in shotgun sports, NASP Archery tournaments, and bass fishing tournaments for a chance to win college scholarship money. We are teaching kids to become stewards of the outdoors by showing them how important conservation activities are.
Scot McClure: Our mission statement is, "To teach outdoor education and to promote and fund conservation of wildlife worldwide.” We have decided to change our name from the Dallas Ecological Foundation to the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation to help set us apart from other organizations in the outdoor industry. From humble beginnings in 1981, we have grown steadily through the years to offer our unique Outdoor Adventures program in hundreds of schools in states from California to Maine, and we continue to grow. We have tens of thousands of students enrolled in Outdoor Adventures with over 150,000 students participating in our program since inception nation-wide.
Where do you see the future headed for you and the DEF/OTF?
Danny Wilcox: The future is incredibly bright with the OTF! The program is going national in 2017, with a goal of 500 schools involved by the end of 2018. There is currently 285 schools participating in the Outdoor Adventures curriculum in Texas. I was asked and accepted the opportunity to help edit and add to the Angler Education portion of the program.
We are building bridges with other like minded groups in providing exposure to as many skills and activities as we can. It is awesome to see the OTF and the Outdoor Adventures program blossom into one of the premiere hands-on classes that promotes the lifetime activities.
Scot McClure: We are excited about the future of our Outdoor Adventure program as well as our conservation efforts, but we felt that by changing our name and doing business as the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation we would be better positioned to expand Outdoor Adventures to over 350 schools by the end of our fiscal year in June 2017, and to recruit and retain over 500 schools to the program by 2018. We are developing a brand which will serve the organization better as we expand and grow within the outdoor education and conservation industry in the future.
We are recruiting, retaining and reactivating our hunting, angling, shooting sports and wildlife conservation heritage.
What is your personal favorite aspect of the foundation and its mission?
Danny Wilcox: My favorite aspect of the OTF Is it's passion to promote outdoor activities to kids across America. Many kids nowadays are locked for something positive to belong to. The Outdoor Adventures program gives them that opportunity. At our school, it has helped lower the drop-out rate, improve attendance and grades for students, and has helped increase school morale and unity amongst the student body.
Scot McClure: The Outdoor Adventures program offers middle and high school students new opportunities to learn skills they will use for a life-time. Everyone should know how to appreciate, respect and enjoy all of our outdoor traditions.
What's one of your most memorable moments while working with children in relationship to the OTF?
Danny Wilcox: There have been many instances of students at KHS who have joined one of our competitive teams and had great success. This has boosted their personal confidence and has led to many of them seeking out other school activities to be a part of as well. The greatest things I see are when kids gain confidence in themselves and walk around with their heads held high because they now have something to belong to.
Scot McClure: Whenever you get to witness one of your students learn a new skill and apply the skill and then enjoy the new skill it can change their lives. I have witnessed hundreds of teenagers catch their first fish or go on an outdoor excursion and when they tell you they can't wait to go again, you know you are impacting their life forever.
Are there any recent or upcoming changes that people should know about?
Danny Wilcox: As the OTF expands nationwide, so has the curriculum. We are in the process of adding multiple new units and activities geared towards a national audience. We want to provide as wide of an array of activities as possible so that every kid in America can experience what their state has to offer them in the outdoors arena.
What has the OTF recognize? What were you awarded?
Danny Wilcox: I was selected as the Kennedale High School Educator of the Year for the 2014-2015 school year. I was also chosen as the OTF Educator of the Year for the 2017 school year.
We are excited to present the award to Danny because he is so passionate about the outdoors and, more importantly, changing students lives through his class.
To learn more about this great outdoor program, visit dallasecologicalfoundation.org.