A DAY TO FO­CUS ON THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

Satur­day’s Youth Out­door Day at Luther Marsh pro­motes fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties that help con­nect kids with the en­vi­ron­ment

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - FAISAL ALI

SOME LIN­GER­ING SUM­MER WEATHER might help put the great in the out­doors as or­ga­niz­ers pre­pare for the 16th an­nual Youth Out­door Day be­ing held Satur­day at Luther Marsh.

Open to the pub­lic free of charge, the event fo­cuses on con­nect­ing kids with their natural en­vi­ron­ment.

“We’re try­ing to spark a pas­sion for the out­doors, and we wanted to teach kids about en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­ward­ship, wildlife con­ser­va­tion – just get kids off of their cell­phones and their elec­tron­ics and just step out­side and en­joy the out­doors,” says Sharon Grose, one of the lead or­ga­niz­ers of the event.

The day is or­ga­nized around sta­tions that kids can choose to par­tic­i­pate in. There are classes in marks­man­ship, from archery (both re­curve and com­pound), to cross­bows and even su­per­vised tar­get shoot­ing with con­ven­tional firearms.

Be­yond pro­jec­tile-based fun, there are plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties with a fo­cus on the Cana­dian wildlife. John Power from the Cam­bridge but­ter­fly sanctuary will teach kids about but­ter­fly “band­ing,” where par­tici- pants will tag but­ter­flies and re­lease them into the wild. Sci­en­tists can read these tags to study the prove­nance and far-flung mi­gra­tion pat­terns of these in­sects.

There will be demon­stra­tions on poin­ter and re­triever dogs by their han­dlers, ed­u­cat­ing kids on a pro­fes­sion and a skill set that they might not have even con­sid­ered oth­er­wise. The fal­conry club will be bring­ing their birds of prey by for kids to learn about. They will teach kids about the skill in­volved in train­ing and car­ing for their fal­cons, as well as show­ing off some of their han­dling skills.

Talons and hooked beaks too much of a turnoff? Check out the World of Wood Ducks where the res­i­dent wood duck ex­pert will teach youth about the colour­ful wa­ter­fowl that pop­u­lates much of the con­ti­nen­tal United States and the south­ern fringes of Canada. Kids will learn about the an­i­mals and how to en­sure these crea­tures con­tinue to sur­vive and thrive on Cana­dian wa­ters.

And speak­ing of wa­ters, no trip to Luther Marsh would be com­plete with­out learn­ing about the ac­com­pa­ny­ing wa­ter­ways. There are classes on fish­ing, from learn­ing the proper tech­nique for a per­fect cast to the suc­cess­fully reel­ing that big one back in. A Min­istry of Natural Re­sources and Forestry (MNRF) bi­ol­o­gist, mean­while, will be on site to of­fer an in­struc­tions on Canada’s vast fish pop­u­la­tion.

MNRF em­ploy­ees will also be there to teach kids about other ca­reers in the en­vi­ron­men­tal sec­tor. A con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer from the MNRF’s ca­nine unit will be there with his pooch part­ner to show their role in man­ag­ing the prov­ince’s forests and wilder­ness. The MNRF will also of­fer sem­i­nars on the species at risk and the con­ser­va­tion ef­forts be­hind them.

The Univer­sity of Guelph’s BioBus will be mak­ing an ap­pear­ance, mem­bers of the lo­cal trap­ping coun­cil, pro­fes­sional taxi­der­mists and wood­carvers – kids will be able to build their own bird­feed­ers. By the end of the day, don’t be sur­prised if the kids return from Luther Marsh ex­pert for­est rangers, ca­pa­ble of light­ing a camp­fire in a rag­ing wind­storm. Or, at the very least, that they’ll be com­ing home with a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the Cana­dian out­doors and even an in­ter­est for ca­reers out in the field.

The Out­door Youth Day is run­ning Satur­day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., rain or shine.

Grose says parents need to ac­com­pany par­tic­i­pat­ing chil­dren – both to en­sure safety and to em­pha­size the fam­ily as­pect of the ac­tiv­i­ties. Lunch will be pro­vided at no cost to par­tic­i­pants.

“It’s all on a vol­un­teer ba­sis and we don’t charge for the day. Thanks to spon­sors and com­mu­nity sup­port we’re able to of­fer this op­por­tu­nity to the youth.”

All of the ac­tiv­i­ties are de­signed for 9- to 15-yearolds – with an ac­com­pa­ny­ing adult. That’s key, ex­plains Grose, be­cause they want to em­pha­size ac­tiv­i­ties like archery and tar­get shoot­ing on of­fer that can be dan­ger­ous. And sec­ondly, they want to fo­cus on ac­tiv­i­ties that can be done with the fam­ily.

“It’s nice to see parents do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with their kids, be­cause when they teach the fly-ty­ing, they teach the kid and they teach the par­ent. And then they can go over, we have a pond that we’ve dug up at Luther Marsh, and they can ac­tu­ally go fish­ing for the day. And it’s nice to see parents and kids fish­ing side by side.”

Grose her­self has been in­volved for 15 of the an­nual event’s 16 years, and she says the event has had more than 3,500 par­tic­i­pants since it first be­gan. Last year, they were rec­og­nized with the Grand River Wa­ter­shed Award. She’s en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to ei­ther reg­is­ter as a par­tic­i­pant, or come out as a vol­un­teer. She also says peo­ple can even do­nate to the event if they wish.

For those in­ter­ested in sign­ing up or vol­un­teer­ing, check out their web­site at www.youthout­doors­day.com for more in­for­ma­tion.

[SUB­MIT­TED]

The Youth Out­door Day has been teach­ing kids about the great Cana­dian Out­doors for the last 16 years. Amongst the events on of­fer are a pond study class, a field dog les­son and a demon­stra­tion by the Min­istry of Natural Re­sources and Forestry ca­nine unit.

One of the sta­tions at the Youth Out­door Day teaches kids about fire safety. The event is be­ing held this Satur­day at Luther Marsh.

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