MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County chapter of Pheasants Forever is sponsoring its second annual Youth Field Day on April 17. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than the first because of the hard work of the volunteers behind it.
The Youth Field Day concept was a trial initiative of Pheasants Forever, with a goal of introducing youth and their families to the outdoors. They work to teach them about habitat, wildlife and how to hunt. They also strive to instill an appreciation of natural resources and encourage them to be conservation-minded citizens. Last year’s local event turned out to be a hit, leading to this year’s event.
“Three years ago, the national organization came up with ‘No Child Left Indoors’ and made that our national theme,” said Pheasants Forever member Althea Dye. “They have discovered that our children today are spending 6 to 6 1/2 hours with gadgets, be it a cell phone, an iPod, a computer, a television or video games, whatever. With all of the budget cuts in schools, they came up with this project for the local chapters to use to encourage kids to get involved and be outdoors again. That being said, last year was our first year to do this. We planned for 75 kids, and if we hit 100, we would have been thrilled. Well, we had 154.”
“I would like to see us hit 300,” said Pheasants Forever treasurer Chris Fletcher. “I could easily see that many being there.”
The field day will offer many different activities for youth — from fishing to shooting a rifle to living history — which is the reason it is becoming so popular.
“We would like to keep this as an annual event,” said Dye. “We partner with several groups to put this on. The (Ohio Division of Natural Resources) are a great sponsor of this as is the (Knox County) Park District. The Knox County Fish and Game Association, the Kokosing Valley chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation and the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation all play a big role.
“We have several other people that support us and donate things. We’re hoping to have even more participate this year. Our goal is to have something for everyone.”
“Last year, we had trout fishing in the pond, and the little kids were just eating that up,” said Fletcher. “They were jerking fish out left and right. It went over real big. Some events were kind of crowded, but we had several other things going on which helped not to have big lines. We just kind of rotated them around.”
Based upon early interest, Dye and Fletcher expect a larger turnout this season for the event, held at Campbell’s Range in Howard.
“We had a great response (last year), but we’d like to have an even bigger one this year,” said Dye. “This is open to anyone. There is no residency restrictions. Boys and girls need to be age 3 to 18, and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“We do have an a.m. and a p.m. session. We realize we are not the only event going on, so you can pick which one fits your schedule better. We are asking for people to pre-register for a time slot so we have an idea of how many to expect. If you have to leave early in the morning, you could come back and catch what you missed in the afternoon.”
Best of all, children do not need to have any skills or money in advance. They also do not need to bring anything with them. Everything will be provided.
“This event is totally free,” said Fletcher. “This is part of what we spend our money on as a group; we want to make this happen for the kids.”
For more information, e-mail Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Pheasants Forever Knox County chapter Web site at knox.oh.pheasantsforever.org. Registration forms are available at the Knox County 4-H Extension Office, East Knox Schools, the Mount Vernon News or at the chapter site online.