Since the start of the 2019 school year, students from the Armand-Fallières agricultural high school can study falconry. A unique option in France which is enjoying great success.
“On my first day as a principal, I saw a student walking around with a hawk on his hand.” The welcome extended that day to Stéphane Courtois, in post since September 2021, could not be more unusual. And yet, the scene was a good illustration of the eclecticism of the education provided within the walls of the Armand-Fallières agricultural school. In Nérac, the originality of the options is a real choice assumed: “The options must above all be a pleasure for the students but which also allows to earn points in the baccalaureate” explains Stéphane Courtois. Like the beekeeping or horseback riding option, falconry has also been able to attract students wishing to discover new horizons.
Awareness and teaching of predation
Under the leadership of Christian Pabis and Lionel Blanchet, two professional falconers with invaluable advice, the young people gradually tame Perceval, a falcon installed in the school since the birth of the option. “His nickname is Perci, but it’s only for close friends” laughs Tom, a second-grader. For his first year in high school, the teenager chose the agricultural high school of Nérac partly for the falconry option: “It was friends who told me about the option. What I like is the contact with the raptor “. At his side, Sacha is just as passionate. Living in Cadaujac in Gironde, the young man in Terminale hopes to work in an aviary, certainly alongside birds of prey: “It’s a chance to be able to be with a falcon. I really like his presence.”
Through sessions of two hours per week, Christian Pabis and Lionel Blanchet teach the legislation around detention, but also raise awareness around the role of predator of the falcon: “During the first session, we insist on the fact that the falcon hunts , and that this is the principle of the food chain. “At the end of the three years, the goal is for each student to be able to own a raptor, but also to provide veterinary care” underlines the principal Stéphane Courtois.
A transversal option
Behind the falconry option, the teachers of the practice raise multiple questions: “We must understand that falconry is a total passion” insists Lionel Blanchet, in charge of the theoretical part. Christian Pabis transmits the practice of dressage but the two professionals rely on the values conveyed by the discipline: “The option arouses debates between the students around hunting, the relationship with predation and death. are philosophical subjects “notes Christian Pabis.
Out of curiosity, or conviction, about twenty students among the establishment’s 273 students chose this option. And already, after only three years, falconers in the making have really fallen under the spell of this universe despite some fears: “At the beginning, we were a little afraid that he would catch us with his beak” concedes Tom. But within three years, some students wishing to devote their lives to it will be able, with a passion for falconry, to stand on their own feet alongside the birds of prey.