Youth Outdoor Day
Nearly 800 youngsters discovered that learning about the outdoors is fun when the lessons are filled with hands-on opportunities at a unique Youth Outdoor Day sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at the EE Wilson Wildlife Refuge area near Corvallis.
It is the largest outdoor fair of its kind,” said Outdoor Youth Day Co-Chair Steve Sessa. He added, “No one is by a TV, in front of a computer and there’s no one texting right now. Everyone is just engaged in the outdoors and that’s just great.”
The day-long event offered 35 different outdoor recreation activities for youngsters who are able to learn by doing from instructors who’ve donated their time.
The instructors bring their skills while 25 organizations provide the equipment and assorted gear so that young people can see and feel what it’s like to shoot a shotgun, handle a bow and arrow, create a piece of wildlife art or send out a champion on a long distance retrieve.
Most kids like Morgan Frederick and her sister Sydney have never done anything like it before:
“I got over the fear of shooting a shotgun,” said a beaming Morgan. “It doesn’t hurt my shoulder because I learned how to hold it the right way. Everyone’s helpful and offers advice if you need it.”
“It really is fun,” added Sydney – if a kid is outdoorsy at all, they might want to come here and learn a lot more things about the outdoors.”
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff spent days preparing the EE Wilson Wildlife Are to handle the crowds and provide plenty of parking for folks who traveled from throughout Oregon to attend.
Scores of staff also volunteered for the flagship event of the agency’s calendar year. In fact, more than 250 volunteers offered their time and expertise for the event.
“People are just clamoring to get outdoors with their families,” said ODFW spokesperson Chris Willard. “Even though it’s billed as a youth event, what you see out here are families engaged in the outdoors and discovering what varied activities mean to them. We hope to show families how easy it is to bond through outdoor activities.”
Valerie Duncan said the event was “spot-on” as a way to engage her three youngsters: “A great place for kids to learn about conservation. We’ve seen reptile displays, dog training, archery – a lot of activities that we’d never find anywhere else. We’re excited to be here and excited to learn more and the atmosphere’s wonderful.”
The Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Hunters Association, NW Steelheaders, the NRA, Ducks Unlimited and the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation are just some of the groups that help the state fish and wildlife agency put on the affair.
It is a remarkable event – even more so because the organizers do little to advertise Youth Outdoor Day. It is mostly done through word of mouth …because they’d rather provide more activities for the kids.
The June event is really just the start too. There are many other ODFW Workshops for kids and their families that continue year round.
Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.