Highland Village Teacher Turns Love of Outdoors into New Non-Profit Organization

For as long as he can remember, Keith Martz has had a passion for anything outdoors. Taught how to hunt and fish by his late father, Dr. Russell Martz, Keith has done it all. “When I grew up, I would throw my shotgun on my bicycle handlebars and travel to my buddy’s house on the edge of town. It was just normal,” said the Hurst native and L.D. Bell High School graduate. “I don’t remember a time when I was not outdoors. That was what I did. That’s just been my life and my culture.” While teaching science at Highland Village’s Briarhill Middle School about 25 years ago, he learned young people didn’t even know how to fish. So he lobbied for, and a couple of years later, received permission to start the Outdoor Trails class. “We went from two, one-semester classes to three full-time outdoor teachers in about five years,” he said. This fall, he expects to educate about 200 6th-8th graders in seven daily classes while another teacher will have an additional 60 students. They focus the year-long course on hunter safety, archery, fishing, cooking, orienteering, survival, camping, trip planning, first aid/CPR, and boating. Through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, they help students earn their Hunter Safety and Boater Education cards. Until last year, Martz put into practice what he was teaching on supervised field trips. Through the elective class fees, Martz would purchase supplies like tents, sleeping bags, and cots for camping trips and ammunition to shoot at firing ranges. But when the Lewisville Independent School District asked him to find a separate way to conduct the trips, he launched a non-profit organization called Doc’s Memorial Outdoor Adventure,s named after his father who died in 2013. “The other reason I wanted to do Doc’s is that even in our demographic, there are kids who can’t do this stuff,” he said. “I had one single mom with four kids, and through donations, I was able to fund their whole trip. “I enjoy what I do. To me, it’s not really work. It’s my hobby. It’s my passion. I get to share that. When I talk about hunting or boater education, I live it, I breathe it. It’s funny, I go on about 15 hunts a year and sit in the blind and haven’t shot a deer in 15 years. I get more out of it by taking them out. “It’s actually been a silver lining. If I do this when I retire, I could still take kids and do stuff.” Martz partners with the Texas Youth Hunting Program, volunteers, landowners, professional guides, and tour companies to make his trips happen. Organizations like the National Rifle Association and businesses like Bass Pro Shops, Optics Manufacturers, Dirty Texas Outfitters and Bank of America have donated money allowing him to fund and even expand his programs outside of Briarhill. “I want to not just do my kids but any kid who wants to go and maybe can’t or doesn’t have the resources,” he said. “I’m kind of a go-between with people who have never done anything before. I give them the opportunity. I’m a facilitator. “I find places to do stuff, whether it’s camping, hunting, or fishing or maybe a guide service. It’s expensive to go duck hunting. It’s expensive to buy everything you need, especially if they’re not sure they will like it. We can take them, and if it’s something they want to pursue, I feel I’m like their gateway into established sports.” In addition to trips within Texas, Martz has taken groups to locations elsewhere in the United States and even to Costa Rica. He works with travel companies to arrange the logistics paid for by each family. Upcoming are a duck hunt in September, three deer hunts in October, and a large family camp in Jacksboro in the spring that attracted 85 people last year. “We’re pretty much turnkey,” he said. “Parents must accompany their children but don’t have to have any experience. We’ll take them out and teach them how to use the firearm correctly, when they can shoot, what they can shoot, and we help them process the animal afterwards. It’s a whole experience. There’s a lot of education. “We try to give them more than the hunt. It’s an appreciation for just being outside and all that’s involved.” Martz is seeking volunteers and places to camp, fish and/or hunt. Doc’s welcomes monetary, land, and service donations. Visit docsmemorialoutdooradventures.com or the organization’s Facebook page for more information.

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