For decades the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR) has offered snowmobile training classes for students from ages 11-15.
The courses were pretty standardized. The students would go in for several classroom sessions to learn the basic rules.
Once the teacher certified them, the students moved onto a final day of drivers training on an outdoor course.
This year, the MnDNR has changed the snowmobile training program to recognize 21st century learning.
Today, students have the option of taking the written part of the program at home, at their computers.
Duane Heiling, who teaches the snowmobile training course locally, said last week, “The classroom training is going by the wayside; it seems to be the trend.”
Starting this year the MnDNR is offering youth snowmobile training in two versions:
• Traditional: Meets two or more times, with eight hours minimum classroom time.
• New CD-based course: Students obtain a free CD from the DNR or instructor, do all the written part of the course at home, then take a one-day classroom review and riding performance course.
“The CD-based course is much more convenient for the families,” said Heiling.
Once the students have gone through the course at home, the can print up a certificate which they take to their local instructor.
“When they complete the CD-based training, the students go to their instructor to complete their certification,” said Heiling.
Once that is all taken care of, the students are then allowed to show up for the drivers part of the test.
Although the CD is free, there is a $5 fee for completing the course.
Heiling said the difficulty with the new system for instructors like himself is finding a good day when everyone can get together for the driving test.
While Heiling said the CD-course is much more convenient for families’ schedules, it makes completing the course harder.
“It’s a lot tougher to find a day to meet for the driving test when all the students are doing the written course at home,” he said. “It’s sort of a roulette about when to schedule it.”
For more information, or to get a CD with the course for youth ages 11-15, contact Heiling at 507-829-4446.