Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Outreach: A Year in Review
Midwest Region, December 31, 2010
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We at Columbia FWCO take outreach and education seriously, which is why we spend so much time working on this aspect of our mission.

During the 2010 fiscal year, we performed outreach at 27 scheduled events, speaking to more than 6,700 people. And that number doesn’t include the people we meet at gas stations and boat ramps - people who are always curious as to what we are doing with “those big boats”.

The outreach we perform takes many different forms, but the goal is always the same – to educate people about the work we do and the resources we protect.

One of the highlights from last year’s outreach was the Wonders of Wildlife (WOW) School. This weekend long school gives participants hands-on-experience in a variety of outdoor skills, such as: fishing, hunting, canoeing, and much more.

The WOW School requires the work of dozens of volunteers and a couple trailers full of equipment. However, other outreach events we participate in are low key requiring only a couple of hours to talk to a group of Boy Scouts or to show families at the local library some live fish.

Outside-the-box thinking is always helpful when delivering outreach. Some of the venues we utilize aren’t traditional fisheries outreach venues. For example, Tons of Trucks is an event meant to gather large trucks from varying fields for the purpose of educating the community about different professions.

Instead of a truck, we bring a boat and live Missouri River fish, and we are a huge hit every year. This single event draws over 3,000 people annually and has allowed us to greatly expand our outreach within the Columbia community.

Much of the education and outreach work we do is geared towards young children. Often times, reaching people while they are still young is the greatest way to make a lasting impression. In that vein, we work closely with local public schools to deliver education that fits the school’s curriculum while educating children about their local natural resources.

In addition, many of our events are family oriented allowing us to educate the children and their parents.

But not all our outreach efforts are directed towards children. We work with the University of Missouri to teach college students about Missouri River fish sampling techniques, and also offer students volunteer opportunities.

We assist hunters with disabilities in an annual deer hunt, and we help Missouri River Relief cleanup the river we work on. Everywhere we look we see opportunities for outreach.

While much of our outreach is local, one event in particular, the Missouri River 304 has received international recognition. The Missouri River 340 is the World’s longest non-stop canoe and kayak race. The event gathers paddlers and media outlets from all over the World. We assist by staffing one of the checkpoints and answering many questions.

We could not possibly accomplish all this outreach on our own. We work with a diverse group of partners (too many to list here), who are also committed to educating people about our natural resources.

Looking forward to 2011, we hope to continue our outreach efforts in even more creative and effective ways.

Contact Info: Colby Wrasse, 573-234-2132 x30, colby_wrasse@fws.gov
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