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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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Columbia’s Wonders of Wildlife
Midwest Region, May 3, 2008
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Brian Johnston, age 5, catches his first fish with the help of Missouri Ecological Services Field Supervisor Charlie Scott. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt
Brian Johnston, age 5, catches his first fish with the help of Missouri Ecological Services Field Supervisor Charlie Scott. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt - Photo Credit: n/a
Ellie Milligan from Missouri Ecological Service examines the contents of a critter box on the Kids Camp nature walk. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt
Ellie Milligan from Missouri Ecological Service examines the contents of a critter box on the Kids Camp nature walk. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt - Photo Credit: n/a
A Young Adventurers student catches a sunfish while other W.O.W. participants canoe at Twin Lakes. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt
A Young Adventurers student catches a sunfish while other W.O.W. participants canoe at Twin Lakes. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt - Photo Credit: n/a
Brian Johnston uses watercolors to paint a wildlife picture at the Twin Lakes pavilion. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt
Brian Johnston uses watercolors to paint a wildlife picture at the Twin Lakes pavilion. FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt - Photo Credit: n/a

“Somethin’s tugging!” five-year-old Brian Johnston said. He took a few steps back, tightened his line, and then began to reel. The shimmering silver and yellow sunfish made a big splash when it reached the surface, and all of the children crowded around Brian’s fishing spot. He had successfully caught his very first fish and his smile stretched a mile wide. He triumphantly posed with his pole and prize for his mother’s flashing camera. 

 

Brian and his parents, Maggie and Craig Johnston, attended the first Wonders of Wildlife (W.O.W.) Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School this May 3rd at Twin Lakes Recreation Area in Columbia, Mo. Beginner’s classes were held at Twin Lakes, and advanced classes were held at Katfish Katy’s on the Missouri River. The Johnston’s were three out of more than fifty W.O.W. participants who braved the windy weather to learn about outdoor skills and gain an appreciation for nature.

 

While Brian and fellow Kids’ Camp participants walked with fish and wildlife biologist Theresa Davidson around Twin Lakes searching for bugs, tadpoles, frogs, dragonflies and butterflies, the adults tested their expert birding skills, made arts and crafts out of recyclable materials, and photographed wildlife and plants around the park.

 

“Art uses nature as its inspiration,” said Ann Mehr, W.O.W. Crafting with Nature instructor and art teacher at Lee Expressive Arts School in Columbia, Mo.  Mehr’s students made watercolor wildlife paintings, and crafted birds and fish using recycled materials.

 

Debbie Bloxham and her granddaughter Lauren, drove from Oklahoma to participate in the W.O.W. School. “We learned about almost every kind of native plant in the Missouri Wildflowers course. We a saw a black walnut tree, toothwort, poison ivy, spring beauty, and so many others,” Bloxham said. “I grew up in an area like this so it was very reminiscent of being back home.”

 

Wonders of Wildlife Schools are designed to engage both adults and children in outdoor activities while teaching participants about outdoor safety, responsibility and respect for plants, animals, birds and the environment. W.O.W. instructors came from mid-Missouri businesses and agencies and shared their expertise in canoeing, nature photography, boating, river and wetland ecology, fishing, and entomology.

 

 “We hope that this event rekindled some of that childhood curiosity in nature for the adults, and gave kids experiences that will help them be conservation stewards in the future,” said Becky Clearwater, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administrative officer in Columbia, Mo.

 

“It’s also about giving individuals an opportunity to share outdoor hobbies with families and friends,” said Lee Erickson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries biologist said, “Hopefully people will go back home after a W.O.W. weekend and say, ‘Let’s go fishing or canoeing or biking more often!’”

 

Erickson and Clearwater were instrumental in planning the Columbia W.O.W. School. They worked with multiple partners to recruit instructors and plan the Columbia event, including Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

 

 

 

 


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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