Conservation Comes to the City
Last year, I attended All Outdoors Day, an event sponsored by the Conservation Department and Bass Pro Shops, at Bois D'arc Conservation Area outside of Springfield. Exhibits and demonstrations conveyed information on numerous outdoor activities, including camping, fishing, fly tying, canoeing, archery, trap and skeet shooting, muzzleloading and good forestry management. From "how to get involved" to "how to do" activities, the day-long event offered information and entertainment.
I asked Mark McCarthy, the Conservation Department's Springfield metro coordinator, what the goal of such an event was. "We want to give people in the urban area of Springfield an appreciation for the outdoors.
"It's an important part of our mission to protect Missouri's forest, fish and wildlife resources," McCarthy says. "The public should be aware of what we do and the resources we manage."
McCarthy says he grew up in an urban area and didn't have the opportunities to do the kinds of things families were doing at All Outdoors Day until he was older. "But I've tried to provide them to my son, Andy, and it's made a difference. For example, a few weeks ago, Andy noticed that I had a black walnut tree in my backyard. Hey, I didn't even know what the tree was and here is my 10-year-old telling me about trees in my own backyard. If we can get people from the Springfield area to become aware of all the outdoors offers...well, with awareness comes appreciation."
Mark pointed to a father with three small children along a fishing pond at Bois D'arc. "See that dad over there? He isn't fishing for these kids; he's fishing with them."
I asked the father, Mark Campbell, why he and his family were there. "When I was a boy, fishing and being in the outdoors kept me out of trouble," Campbell explained. "Especially with the way things are going nowadays, I want my children to have the same experiences. It's important for me to pass along the love of hunting and fishing to them"
"Yeah," piped up four-year old Hunter Campbell. "I like to catch fish, but what I really like is eating them!"
If one is looking for this same appreciation and awareness of the outdoors in the St. Louis area, they don't have to look far. I spent one day in the city of St. Louis visiting just a few of the partnerships the Conservation Department is involved with, and I was amazed by both the