A program created by a collaborative effort between Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gets kids outside in the great outdoors and actively developing skills in fishing, archery, orienteering, camping and just exploring nature. The Outdoor Education Skills Clinic, part of the DNR’s Urban Outreach Initiative, is a great way to give youth from urban neighborhoods the opportunity to explore our state parks and the world outdoors. And while the kids are learning, having fun and being active, adult volunteers are gaining mentoring skills resulting in more positive outcomes.
The clinic is an 8-week-program that took place June 20 through Aug. 12, 2011, at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Proud Lake Recreation Area, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon State Park and Bay City State Recreation Area. Altogether 2,287 youth participated along with 391 adults.
Gary Williams, Extension educator in Wayne County, coordinates the program. Gary reports that every youth and every adult leader who participated in evaluations indicated that they had a positive learning experience in the great outdoors. And both groups responded overwhelmingly that they would like to participate in additional outdoor activities.
As far as future clinics go, Gary says he is “in the groove already, looking forward to next year and planning an additional site.”