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The Outdoors Classroom


The passing of the 4th of July largely means our summer is half-over.  You could also say it’s the mid-term of the 2011 Outdoors Classroom. 

Summer is a perfect opportunity to immerse youngsters in outdoors activities. They’re out of school, so they have plenty of time.   The DNR hopes instead of spending the summer in the virtual world of video games, texting, and computers they’ll instead enter into a different kind of classroom—the one just out the back door.

"If we don’t introduce kids to the outdoors at an early age in life we find most of them will never pick up a rod, never pick up a gun or bow, most of them won’t even become conservationists," said Scott Warner of the West Virginia DNR.  "While their minds are expanding and their enthusiasm is running wild, now is a great time to introduce them."

Summer opportunities are abounding.  Although hunting is off the table, there are still plenty of lessons to be taught with no more than a walk up a tumbling mountain stream or down a dusty forest trail somewhere in West Virginia.

"We’re real fortunate to have an abundance of wildlife and an abundance of recreational opportunities around the state," said Warner. "We’ve got state parks, state forests, and national forests.  We’ve got a lot of places to go and cast a line or just throw a rock."

A child’s attention span may be short, but when it’s focused it is a laser beam.   Crawling salamanders, darting crawfish, a bird’s nest filled with eggs, deer with velvet antlers, a mother bear and her cubs, or a flock of turkey poults are fascinating to a child.    

The agency encourages parents to take children on excursions where those unique experiences can be enjoyed and used as teaching moments.   It can be accomplished in a 20-minute stroll through those woods behind your house after dinner or on a weekend campout in the high mountains of the Monongahela National Forest.

"Spending time with your kids, you can reconnect with nature when you do it with your kids," said Warner.  "Don’t wait for the kids to ask you, take an opportunity and spend some time with your kids.  Take them camping, take them fishing, and get out there and enjoy what we have."


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