Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Columbia Hosts W.O.W. National Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School
Midwest Region, May 1, 2008
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the first W.O.W. National Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School in Columbia to be held Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, 2008. The W.O.W. (Wonders of Wildlife) School will offer introductory outdoor education courses at Twin Lakes Recreation Area in Columbia and advanced outdoor courses at Katfish Katy’s along the Missouri River.


W.O.W. Schools are designed to teach participants outdoor responsibility and safety and how to enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreation activities. Participants can learn how to hunt for mushrooms at “Wild Munchies,” call for animals at “Wildlife Calling,” and learn about the biology, hydrology and geology of Missouri landscapes at “Secrets of the Land Revealed.” Other courses will be taught in flyfishing, canoeing, camping, nature photography, river-boating, and many other outdoor activities and hobbies.


The Columbia W.O.W. School will also offer activities just for kids. Kids’ Camp and Young Adventurers are all day courses offered at Twin Lakes Recreation Area for kids ages 4-11. River Wranglers will be offered for kids ages 9-11 at Katfish Katy’s.


“This is the first year Columbia will host a school, and we expect an impressive turnout based on the success of our other schools in the past,” Misty Mitchell, director of conservation programs at the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Mo, said. The first W.O.W. School was held in Springfield in 1997. Since then, W.O.W. Schools have expanded to Kansas City, St. Louis, and Roaring River State Park.


“We have enlisted the expertise of biologists, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts to teach our W.O.W. courses. These people love the work they do, and want to share their knowledge about the environment and outdoor activities with as many people as possible,” Lee Erickson, fisheries biologist with the Service, said. Instructors will be coming to Columbia from across the state to teach the courses.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with W.O.W. partners since August 2007 to plan the event. Those partners include Columbia’s Parks and Recreation, Wonders of Wildlife, Missouri Department of Conservation, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Bass Pro Shops.


“It’s a challenge to coordinate with multiple agencies to pull off such a large event like this, but we’ve built strong relationships with our partners and are working hard to ensure the participants enjoy their time spent at the school … We’re all anxious for the weekend to arrive,” Becky Clearwater, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administrative officer, said.


W.O.W. has also enlisted the help of mid-Missouri partners to make the event a real community effort. Representatives from Walt’s Bicycle Fitness and Wilderness Co., Joe Machens Toyota, Lee Expressive Arts School, Tracker Marine, Lincoln University, Stormwater Outreach and Education, Hinkson Creek Watershed Restoration Project, and Donna Brunet Macro Photography will offer their expertise as W.O.W. course instructors.


 “It’s especially important for families to experience and learn from the natural world. It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of work and school … families can lose sight of what’s important – like spending time together outdoors. Hopefully this will provide an opportunity for them to do just that,” Charlie Scott, field supervisor of the Service’s Missouri ES field office, said.


Families and individuals can download registration forms from the Columbia W.O.W. School on the Wonders of Wildlife Web site at www.wondersofwildlife.org. Classes at Katfish Katy’s begin at 6:30 a.m. Saturday classes at Twin Lakes Recreation Area will run from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. All money raised from registration costs will go toward funding additional W.O.W. schools across the state.

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