Note To Our Readers

Bridging the Gap

Each generation of people bring a unique set of knowledge, skills, likes and dislikes to the world. When those ideas differ among generations we often call it a generation gap. I’ve noticed through the years that outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, canoeing, wildlife watching and hiking often bridge or close that generational gap. No matter the difference in years, people seem to be able to break down age barriers and enjoy the outdoors together.

Missouri’s outdoor opportunities help people of all ages interact and provide teaching and mentoring possibilities for many parents, grandparents, relatives and friends. The Department has just updated two shooting ranges, Lake City Range near Kansas City and the Jay Henges Range near St. Louis. Both facilities offer Missourians the opportunity to enjoy recreational sport shooting. Teaching a youngster to safely shoot a .22 rifle is extremely rewarding for both teacher and student. Bring plenty of .22 ammunition! Helping another person learn to become a good wing shot is one of my favorite shooting pastimes. Missouri is a national leader in shooting ranges with five staffed shooting ranges and unstaffed shooting ranges on more than 60 conservation areas.

Our state is the float-stream mecca for many Midwesterners. Canoeing is a safe, easy outdoor adventure that you can help someone else learn about. Try floating during different seasons, you will be amazed at how much a stream changes with the seasons.

Teaching someone to hunt, fish, become a wildlife watcher or simply to better appreciate the outdoors creates a more knowledgeable citizenry, a more engaged public and is rewarding to everyone involved in the activity. Watching a youngster catch their first fish, introducing someone to hummingbirds close up or helping another person learn to identify birds can all be personally rewarding. I marvel at kids’ reactions when my friend Tim Baker, a banker in Springfield, teaches them about bird dogs. Tim lets kids throw retrieving dummies and teaches them to give his springer spaniels commands. Watching the kids excitement level elevate and their interaction with the dogs is something I’ll never forget! I know they won’t forget their experience with the spaniels!

Each of us has had the opportunity to learn about the outdoors from other people. Pass on your knowledge and help others to experience those special moments we have all come to cherish in the outdoors.

Help bridge the gap whether it’s generational, knowledge-based or just someone who’s never had outdoor opportunities by introducing them to an outdoor activity and helping them develop their skills in the outdoors. Bridging the gap brings people of all ages together to enjoy outdoor activities. Enjoying our high-quality outdoor lifestyle in Missouri is something we can all be proud of. By helping someone else improve their quality of life you might just find your own quality of life improves. Help bridge the gap!

Tim D. Ripperger, deputy director