Whether you’re ready to bundle up and get outside or curl up on the couch and tune in virtually, Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has another season of great programs scheduled to connect Rhode Islanders with our state’s beautiful natural resources.

From wilderness first aid to hunter education classes to wild game cooking classes, guided walks, and virtual programs, there’s something for everyone.

DFW’s Aquatic Resource Education Program, Hunter Education Program, and Wildlife Outreach staff have planned a winter program schedule with plenty of opportunities to learn about Rhode Island’s fish and wildlife resources or to try out a new outdoor skill. Most of the programs being offered this winter are free of charge and family-friendly.

The programs are as follows:

Aquatic Resource Education Programs

Fall Fly Tying (Families with children 8 and older)

The fall fly tying series is wrapping up, so join us for the last class! Fly tying instructors from United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island, Rhody Fly Rodders, and Trout Unlimited will be there to guide both beginning and intermediate fly tyers in the art of fly tying. Participants can choose to tie either saltwater or freshwater flies each class. Walk-ins are welcome; however, pre-registration is preferred. 

Date: Monday, December 6

Time: 6:30-8:30 PM

Location: North Kingstown Community Center (Cold Spring Community Center)

Registration: For more information, please contact Kimberly Sullivan at kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov.

Cost: $5/person

Hunter Education Programs

Hunter Education (Ages 10+, parent or legal guardian must be present for the entire course)

This in-person class is required to become certified to hunt with firearms in the State of Rhode Island. A 100-question test will be administered at the end of day two.

Dates: Saturday-Sunday December 4-5 (must attend both sessions)

Time: 9 AM-5PM

Location: RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education Office, 1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter

Registration: Pre-registration is required to be admitted. Register here.

Cost: Free 

Virtual Wilderness First Aid Class (All ages welcome)

Join us for a family-friendly overview of first aid medical and trauma emergencies with some wilderness considerations. This is a non-certification course taught by an EMT with 20 years’ experience who also is an outdoor education instructor. This course will use real-world outdoor examples such as hunting, hiking, and fishing. Test your skills with multiple-choice videos where emergencies are acted out for visual emphasis. Some topics covered include scene safety, anaphylaxis, hypothermia and hyperthermia, multi-trauma considerations, and more.

Date:FridayDecember 10

Time: 6-8 PM

Location: Virtual

Registration: Pre-registration required. A Zoom conference link will be sent out upon completion of registration. Register here.

Cost: Free

Bowhunter Education (Ages 10+, parent or legal guardian must be present for the entire course)

This in-person class is required to become certified to hunt with archery in the State of Rhode Island. If students need the Archery Proficiency Test, this will be booked separately and is not a part of this class. A 50-question test will be administered at the end of day two.

Dates:Tuesday- WednesdayJanuary 11-12 (must attend both sessions)

Time:5-9 PM

Location:RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education Office, 1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter

Registration:Pre-registration is required to be admitted. Register here.

Cost: Free

Wild Game Cooking Class

Wild game cooking class with Chef Andy Lussier of Culinary Connections. Please join RI DEM Hunter Education Division of Fish and Wildlife for an entertaining and informative lesson by our professional chef-instructor plus tastings of every dish prepared in class.

Register with a check or money order to reserve your spot.

Date: Thursday, January 23

Time: 12-3 PM

Location: RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education Office, 1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter

Registration: Due to limited seating, registration is required. We will not accept walk in participants. Register here.  

Cost:$50

Please make check out to:

Culinary Connections

Mail to:

RI DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Education Office

1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place Exeter, RI 02822

Before January 1, 2022

Firearms Familiarization Course (Ages 10+, parent or legal guardian must be present for the entire course)

Learn about the six actions of firearms, how they operate, the basics of ammunition, safe firearm handling, and more! Perfect for beginners and those who are looking to gain more knowledge on the topic of firearms. Students are prohibited from bringing firearms and/or ammunition to the class.

Date: Thursday, February 3

Time: 5:30-9:30 PM

Location: RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education Office, 1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter

Registration: Pre-registration required. Register here.

Cost: Free 

Hunter Education (Ages 10+, parent or legal guardian must be present for the entire course)

This in-person class is required to become certified to hunt with firearms in the State of Rhode Island. A 100-question test will be administered at the end of day two. Pre-registration is required to be admitted.

Dates: Wednesday-Friday, February 23-25 (must attend all sessions)

Time: 5-9 PM

Location: RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education Office, 1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter

Registration: Pre-registration required. Register here.

Cost: Free 

Wildlife Outreach Programs

Beaver, Otters, and Muskrats, Oh My! (All Ages)

Otters and beavers and muskrats, oh my! Join the DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife outreach program to learn all about these three species of semi-aquatic mammals that call Rhode Island home! What do they eat, where can you find them, how do they survive the long winter months? These questions and more will be answered during this virtual Zoom program in partnership with the Lincoln Public Library!

Date: Wednesday, January 12

Time: 6-7:30 PM

Location: Virtual

Registration:All ages are welcome to attend this FREE program, but registration is required to receive a Zoom link. Register here.

Cost: Free 

Winter Waterfowl (Ages: Adults)

During the wintertime, few people venture outside into the frigid air and even fewer are brave enough to visit the shoreline. However, there is a surprising treat if you closely watch the rise and fall of the waves. Winter waterfowl are the hidden jewels that add vibrant colors to the drab grey that blankets winter. Get in on the secret and learn about the many beautiful species of ducks and geese that feed along the rocky shore with the DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife. Registration is required and space is limited. 

Date: Thursday, January 27

Time: 6-7 PM

Location: This program is set to be in-person at the Cross’ Mills Public Library, Charlestown RI but may switch to virtual depending on COVID restrictions.

Registration: Register here.

Cost: Free  

Wildlife Solutions: Nocturnal Nuisances (Ages: Adults)

Coyotes, Foxes, and Fishers: Nocturnal mammals are greatly misunderstood; most of their fear-instilling actions are simply a part of their life history and survival strategies. Still, these critters can certainly become a nuisance, especially when they begin to den under decks and dine out of chicken coops. Learning why these creatures behave the way they do is the key to finding resolution. This session will help you identify what is attracting these animals to your yard, and how to make your property less hospitable. Learn about the discoveries made by the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study and see what we have already learned through the collaborative Fisher Project with URI. This will be a virtual program in partnership with the Langworthy Public Library

Date: Tuesday, February 8

Time: 6:30-8:30 PM

Location: Virtual

Registration: Register here.

Cost: Free  

Virtual Winter Wonderland Walk (All ages, tailored for children)

Explore some of the 60,000 acres of land managed by DEM Fish and Wildlife on this virtual habitat hike! Join Mary and Gabby as they look for critters, identify tracks, and explain how animals have adapted to live in so many different kinds of habitats! This free family friendly program will be held in partnership with the Woonsocket Library and registration is required.

Date: Thursday, March 3

Time: 4-5 PM

Location: Virtual

Registration: Register here.

Cost: Free  

For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook and Fish and Wildlife, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem and @RI.FishandWildlife) for timely updates.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).