Outdoor Youth Day

Luring youngsters out of the house-away from the influences of video games, TV and other electronic devices-is the main idea behind the third annual Outdoor Youth Day coming to Marietta’s Buckeye Park Saturday morning.

“There will be fishing, archery, wildlife tracking and a new BB gun station this year,” said Susie Joyce, recreation clerk for the city of Marietta.

“We want kids to get outside and enjoy the outdoors-and it’s all free for ages 6 to 15,” Joyce said. “It’s an expansion beyond our annual fishing derby that’s held in June, and this is a way to share other outdoor activities with kids.”

A highlight of each year’s event is wildlife and forestry specialist Dean Sinclair from the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District.

Sandy Lahmers, the district’s program administrator, said in addition to being a forestry expert Sinclair handles many in-town animal nuisance calls, and is familiar with most of the wild animals that city youngsters are liable to see in their own backyards.

“Dean never gets tired of showing items from his ‘skulls and furs trunk,'” Lahmers said. “He has skulls and furs from a variety of animals, as well as rubber molds of animal tracks. So he can show kids what a raccoon or opossum’s fur looks like. He’s very good with youth presentations.”

More than 60 attended the first Outdoor Youth Day in 2011, but attendance was down a bit in 2012, so organizers are working to get the word out this week in hopes of a record turnout for Saturday’s event that begins with registration at 8 a.m., followed by a host of activities and lunch provided by the Marietta Civitan Club.

“They get a hot dog lunch with chips, cookies and a drink,” said Connie Grimes with the Pioneer Ladies Civitan group.

She said the annual Outdoor Youth Day grew out of a suggestion from Eric Bear, wildlife officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“We were doing the annual youth fishing derby more than three years ago and Eric said he would like to see an outdoor day for young people that would include a variety of educational activities for kids,” Grimes said. “The men of our Civitan group agreed it was something they wanted to do. Now they provide T-shirts for the event and help with the registration and activities.”

Grimes said past events have been very successful, noting there are many area children who have never gone fishing, fired a BB gun, or aimed a bow at an archery target, and otherwise may have never had those experiences.

This year’s Outdoor Youth Day sponsors include Marietta Civitan Club, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the city of Marietta, and the Washington Soil and Water Conservation Service.