Outdoor appreciation class teaches more than just life skills

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Maplewood High School senior Megan McClosey, 18, of Mecca, learns archery skills during the school’s outdoor appreciation class as classmate Jarrett Mitchell, 17, watches. The class, which teaches students skills like archery, fishing, gun safety and boating safety, is taught by Terry Muresan.

MECCA — Maplewood High School seniors in Terry Muresan’s outdoor appreciation class like to call it a fun way to learn life skills.

“It really is about survival skills,” Muresan said.

About a decade ago, Muresan said, he began teaching the class about archery and fishing skills, and gun and boating safety, among other outdoor activities.

“The class originally had the name ‘Life Biology’ and was started long ago by teacher Tom Thomas,” Muresan said. “Actually, I was a senior when it first started, but I didn’t take the class.”

Muresan sometimes hunts on his 300-acre farm in Mecca, but several of his students plan to be in the woods and tree stands Monday as deer gun hunting season begins in Ohio.

Senior Zach Thomas said he will probably be tracking white-tailed deer “as soon as the sun comes up” on his family property. He said he has been hunting deer since he was in the second grade, getting one almost every year, including a handful with a bow and arrow.

Muresan teaches his students how to properly handle a gun and be responsible. Zach Thomas responded by reciting the four primary rules of firearm safety.

“First, you have to treat every firearm with respect as if it is loaded,” Thomas said.

Senior Makayla Pop said her great-uncle took her hunting about two years ago when she bagged a six-point buck from a tree stand with a crossbow.

“The only thing is you have to get rid of any scents, so you have to wash with scentless soap and use scentless deodorant,” Pop said.

The class gave senior Alexis Accordino her first chance to shoot a rifle.

“I was a little apprehensive at first. I didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out fine,” said Accordino, who her classmates said now handles the .22-caliber better than her hunter-boyfriend.

In the spring, Muresan will be taking his class on field trips for creek assessments with the assistance of the Trumbull County Soil and Water Conservation District, in addition to learning about boating safety and fishing skills.

“We spend more time outside than in, but the kids have been really good and trustworthy. I don’t see anybody in here not being productive after graduation,” he said, noting that the 20-student class includes four National Honor Society members.