DOWAGIAC – Local children will get more opportunities for outdoor adventures and experiences with animals thanks to another successful year of local event.
The 25th Annual Hunting Meeting sold lottery tickets worth approximately $ 14,000 to the Youth Education Foundation on Saturday at the Dowagaika Nature Conservation Club, 54551 M-51 N., Dowagiac. The Youth Foundation provides admission to summer camps, free hunting safety classes, and contributes nature and wildlife programs to local libraries and schools, among others.
“It was very successful; we had a big turnout, ”said Hunter’s Rendezvous co-chair Stephanie Lyons. “We have just had a friendship meeting [Monday], and we had a few people who became members because of what we do for young people. … They saw it and want to be a part of it. ”
According to Lyon, the event, which also aims to increase children’s interest in active recreation, was attended by more than 100 children. Each child participated in a free lottery that included a Red Ryder BB pistol. Children were also able to see a turtle and snake brought from the John Ball Zoo, take part in youth adventures on the property, eat the sea by the fire and learn about Michigan’s youth camp in the open air organized by Michigan United Environmental Clubs.
The club intends to send 15 children aged 9-16 to the MUCC Out-of-Doors camp in Chelsea, which costs $ 450 per child. According to the MUCC, the youth camp is a 6-day and 5-night summer adventure designed to instill in Michigan children a love of nature. The camp aims to teach the merits of conservation by showing them the benefits of the outdoors. Activities include fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, forestry, wildlife identification, archery and basic firearms safety.
“The kids were really excited to be there and learn about the program,” Lyons said. “Parents are happy to accept their children and introduce them to such an environment … away from video games, away from television.”
Last year, the Youth Education Foundation brought a traveling wildlife exhibition to the Dovagyak District Library, funded a visit to the Patawatomi Zoo at Kinchelo Primary School and organized a meeting with animals from the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. The program also purchased more than 100 books on nature and animals for distribution to the local Little Free Library, and sent 330 TRACKS journals to elementary schools in the area.
Although Lyons has said the foundation will go for the same, she is always looking for new ways to engage children outdoors.
“I’m constantly looking for and trying to come up with new ideas,” she said. “Whether we force children to come up with something or something we can send to children.”
The event was also attended by veteran group Fallen Outdoors, weapons appraiser Jack Cruz, Legends and Tails Taxidermy, Gold Coast Fishing Company and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Indian Lake and Wayne Township fire departments were also on hand to help with the bonfire and s’mores station.
The winners of the main prizes were:
- 1st Prize: Freezer Meat Filled with Clear Water Meats – Adam LeVally
- 2nd prize: Camouflage Ruger .350 rifle – Greg Roberts
- 3rd prize: Fireproof safe – Zana Klomes
- 4th Prize: Blackstone Griddle – Tom Atkinson
- 5th prize: camouflage chair – Dar Bourne