Youth Outdoor Festival serves many purposes

Don’t tell a kid headed to a Youth Outdoor Festival that they are going to school. He or she might not be as willing to go and would miss out on all the fun – and the education.

That’s right, education. Every activity at the Conservation and Skills Park at the State Fairgrounds, besides being fun, teaches kids valuable lessons that will stick with them for life.

Like safety first – all of the time. Respect for wildlife, respect for the land, other hunters, the law and landowners. It’s not just about picking up a pole and catching a bluegill in the pond, although there is that. Kids are taught how to behave outdoors.

Put on by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department with the help of various clubs and organizations, the annual festival introduces kids to fishing, target shooting, archery – even how to use a duck call. Parents are involved as well as volunteers who take great pleasure out of passing on what they have learned over the many years they have been afield.

“To have that personal mentor introduce them into a sport is really a good thing,” said Greg Gullickson, NDG&F, who took part in last Thursday’s outing. “Even fishing on the dock we’ve had a lot of first fish caught, right here in the middle of the State Fairgrounds. Pretty neat!” he said.

One of the volunteers, Dave Bussard with Pheasants for the Future, also recognizes the importance and value of introducing youth to outdoors-related activities.

“Our group is so passionate about youth and starting young and getting involved,” Bussard said.“Enjoying the North Dakota outdoors is just a passion that people will hang onto for life. Memories started today will be cherished forever.”

And as we are wont to say, that is a good thing. It’s more than a good thing. It’s part of our heritage here in North Dakota. The outdoors and wildlife are to be celebrated, cherished, shared and preserved for the generations that follow. And that is exactly what Game and Fish is accomplishing here in Minot. With a lot of good help.