OLYMPIA – Young people, adults and families will have a chance to connect with nature and learn a variety of outdoor skills at the 2007 Youth Outdoor Adventure Expo May 18-19 at the Cowlitz County Expo Center, 1900 7th Ave., in Longview.
The expo—which is free both days—is open to the general public Saturday, May 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pre-registration is not required.
Friday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is reserved for students in grades 3-8 and their teachers. Students must be registered to attend Friday’s event. Registration will remain open until April 20; those interested can call (360) 864-4259.
Designed to introduce youngsters to outdoor activities, the expo will feature instruction and demonstrations by more than 160 outdoor experts and educators in outdoor skills. Activities will include fly tying, casting, catch-and-release fishing, firearm safety, outdoor survival, hunting, compass reading, boating, marine touch tanks and bird identification.
“I believe the success of this first-ever expo in Washington will trigger a friendly competition among other regions of our state to hold second, third and subsequent events,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Jeff Koenings. “So let’s get Washington’s youngsters out to experience this year’s expo as we treat a version of ‘nature deficit disorder.’”
More than 1,300 students have already signed up to attend Friday’s event, said Jackie Jones, the expo’s chief organizer and leader of Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GoPaw) and Camp Fire USA Lower Columbia Council, which are sponsoring the event with WDFW.
“So far, most registrants are from southwest Washington, but we’d like to have people from all over the state come to the expo and take advantage of this unique outdoor opportunity,” Jones said.
“Outdoor expos are powerful tools for introducing young people to activities and interests that can lead to a lifelong passion for the outdoors, recreation and conservation,” Koenings said. “The expo offers hands-on learning, while teaching youngsters the importance of protecting and preserving our natural resources.”
Jones noted that the outdoor expo is partly funded by a $10,000 grant from Weatherby Foundation International, a non-profit foundation that supports events focused on outdoor skill-building, ethical sport hunting and conservation education – including outdoor expos in 17 states – throughout the nation.
“Young people increasingly spend more time exploring the Internet than the outdoors,” said Bonnie Long, WDFW public outreach manager. “That’s why these events, which offer ways for children to experience their outdoor heritage, are so important. These youngsters will soon be the stewards of our lands and wildlife.”
For more information on the event, call Jackie Jones at (360) 864-4259, or Bonnie Long at (360) 902-8308.