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Governor's Youth In Outdoors|
In the past few years, an inovative initiative called the Governor’s Youth in the Outdoors Program has been promoting a better understanding and appreciation of conservation and the state’s natural resources among West Virginia’s young people. The number of participants has been growing as the word gets out about this educational and fun venture.
The program, initiated by Governor Bob Wise, not only provides opportunities for West Virginia’s youth to participate in outdoor activities involving hunting and fishing, but also combines the talents of hunting and fishing organizations with those of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). The year-long program begins in the spring with the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), WV Bass, and DNR-sponsored Governor’s Spring Turkey and Bass Challenge essay contest designed to develop many different skills for the state’s youth. Each year a different theme, such as “The Economic Impact of Hunting” and “The Importance of Hunting to Wildlife Management” is chosen specifically to “challenge” the youth about aspects of outdoors recreation.
“This is an exciting program because it encourages the contestants to do some research and practice their writing skills, and the winners have the opportunity to learn more about our state’s wildlife and fish management programs,” Governor Wise said. “It’s also a great chance for them to be exposed to career opportunities they might not see otherwise, and to have some fun at the same time.”
Essay winners travel to Flatwoods in the spring for instruction from wildlife biologists about wildlife management, trapping turkey for study, fish population surveys, wildlife ecology and other educational subjects related to the outdoors. The event culminates with the winners participating in a spring gobbler hunting and bass fishing trip, accompanied by well-known outdoor writers as well as turkey hunting and bass fishing guides.
“Students are given hands-on experience in wildlife study techniques such as fish surveys and turkey trapping demonstrations at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. Several of them also have been successful in their guided turkey hunts in the Flatwoods area and fishing trips on Stonewall Jackson Lake,” Governor Wise said. “This kind of activity is important and fun for everyone. It’s a great way to enjoy our state’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife resources. I really encourage our young folks to participate.”
The essay contest is only one part of the Governor’s Youth in the Outdoors Program. The WVDNR and several private organizations have created a series of events, including two different youth deer hunts, a youth squirrel hunt, the construction of two new fishing lakes in Kanawha and Logan counties just for youth and physically-challenged anglers, and the ongoing Governor’s Outdoor Youth Challenge competition which has been held each year during the National Hunting and Fishing Days Celebration at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. This event challenges the participants’ skills in .22 rifle shooting, bow shooting, clay target shooting, casting, distance estimation, West Virginia fish identification and a written exam on state hunting and fishing laws and safety rules. The Senior Division also includes a muzzleloader shoot. The Junior (10-13) event is held on Saturday and the Senior (14-17) event on Sunday. The challenge has been such a success that it has been expanded from 50 to 100 kids in the two age groups.
“The Governor’s Outdoor Youth Challenge is supported by sponsors from all over the state, including $1,000 each from the National Rifle Association and the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Other sponsors include sportsman groups, local businesses and generous individuals,” DNR Director Ed Hamrick said. “DNR and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation appreciate the support and interest in this event. Everyone who took part was proud to support this innovative program, and we’re all eager to do it each year as we encourage the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts,” said Hamrick.
For information about the Spring Wild Turkey Challenge essay contest and other activities in the Governor’s Youth in the Outdoors Program, please call the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section at 304-558-2771.
Eligible youths (ages 11-17) interested in the 2003 Governor’s Outdoor Youth Challenge at the National Hunting and Fishing Days Celebration should contact Marshall Snedegar, Bldg. 3, Room 821, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305 to be placed on the spring mailing list for applications.
To Read The Rules And Regulations
Application For 2003 Governor's Outdoor Youth Challenge - (PDF format, 25.6KB)
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