It's fun. It's free and it's part of the North Dakota State Fair.
Again this year the Conservation Skills Park on the State Fairgrounds is proving to be "don't miss" destination for many fairgoers. The Skills Park is popular with young and old alike. Admission is free and there is plenty of things to see and do.
A large team of volunteers assists members of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in staffing the park throughout fair week. Among those working at the Conservation Skills Park Wednesday at Greg Link. Link is the chief of the Conservation and Communication Division for Game and Fish.
“Herbie” the moose helps welcome visitors to the Conservation Skills Park at the North Dakota State Fair. The park is open from 1-7 p.m. daily during the fair.
Two young shooters test their skills at the air rifle range at the Conservation Skills Park during the State Fair. Admission to the park is free.
"It gives us exposure with the young population and the young people who probably haven't had much exposure to our natural resources and using our natural resources," said Link. "The park is an educational tool, but also a recruitment tool. It gives kids a chance to try several things."
There are many displays within the Conservation Park. Popular stops with visitors are the aquariums, a new Lure 'Em For Life trailer, archery and air rifle ranges and the fishing pier. Often while youngsters try their hand at outdoors skills under the watchful tutelage of a volunteer, the adults will relax in the abundant and refreshing shade found within the park.
For Link and other Game and Fish personnel, fair week also means an important opportunity to visit with the public on a one-to-one basis.
"Here at the fair we get people from all corners of the state and from out of state too," noted Link. "We get a lot of neat questions and it's a nice chance to talk to people about the resources in their area, hear what they care about and what their passions are. That's kind of neat."
The Conservation and Skills Park underwent a major expansion following the 2011 flood. An enlarged park greeted fair visitors last year and was well received. Plans are being made for further enhancements to the park.
"We're always trying to add a few new twists and make things fresh," said Link. "I do know we have to address our pellet gun area. That's been around for quite a while. It needs to be reworked and upgraded."
Proposed improvements to the park must still be funded and meet with Game and Fish approval.
"We got more space after the flood and that has created a real opportunity, but we need to figure out how to best use the park long-term," said Link.