Arkansas Youth Expos

Sponsoring Agency or Organization

Contact: Mike Bonds, Asst. Chief

Email: cmbonds@agfc.state.ar.us

Phone: (501) 978-7341

Program details

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission sponsors youth outdoor expos every May. These expos invite thousands of 5th graders from area schools to get outside and experience fun, conservation-related activities.

Expos are held each year in partnership with the United States Forest Service at the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area, which is reserved by the Commission with a three-day special use permit. Other youth expos occur at the Commission's nature and education centers.

At each expo, school groups pass through four stations of one hour duration. The stations include archery, fishing, BB-gun shooting, and a biology station which may focus on deer, elk, reptiles, turkey, or waterfowl. At the end of each day, a big demonstration is held for all of the groups featuring trained dogs, turkey netting, or other eye-catching conservation activity. The students are present at the expos from 9:00 until 2:30.

Planning and Evaluation

Program objectives: 

Introduce students to conservation sports

Introduce students to wildlife and wildlife management practices

Expose teachers to conservation sports and wildlife management

Manual or Plan

This program has a manual or plan: No

Comments: No written plan, but groups are arranged by class and backpack color (Commission furnishes backpacks). Classes then proceed through the expo through a set rotation.

Evaluation

This program is evaluated: Yes

Metrics used to measure success and evaluate this program:

(Click on the link for each of these metrics to see programs that use the same metrics)

Program considerations and recommendations

General comments: Program is very popular with 5th grade age group; 6th would also work, but 7th and up would be harder to manage, and 4th and below are probably too small for the activities. If using a federal facility, you will need a special use permit. Try to get a facility that is not normally open to the public during the timeframe to avoid user conflicts. Programs of this nature fit in with USDA's strategic plan for the forests. Handling kids with special needs requires additional consideration, especially if your area or parts of it are not ADA compliant. We've handled kids in wheelchairs, as well as those that are hearing and vision impaired. Knowing which groups have those kids and routing them accordingly is critical to avoid problems and giving those kids a great experience. We strongly encourage the use of walkie talkies by your staff. Communication over a large area is difficult, and being able to do so well is important when the unexpected occurs. We also strongly recoomend that you plan expos after your state's standardized testing. Schools are often hungry for programming between the end of testing and the end of the school year.

Critical elements to consider when planning this type of program: Types of activities to present Sufficient equipment for all stations (bows, arrows, bb guns, targets, cane poles, etc.) Sufficent staff EMT's/first aid Trash/restroom management Traffic regulation/enforcement

Special facilities needed to implement the program: Area with lake Area sufficiently large for number of participants Sufficient restrooms for participants Bus parking area

Budget

Approximate cost to agency/organization to implement program: $15000.00

Approximate staff effort required to implement program: 60 for the largest events