Mentoring in Minnesota
Duluth-area Ikes are helping youth build a life-long relationship with the outdoors.
The W.J. McCabe Chapter in Duluth, Minnesota, partnered with the Duluth Retriever Club in September 2010 for a weekend focused on youth and youth mentoring.
Meeting of the
On Friday night, 41 people with a common interest in youth mentoring and outdoor “entry” activities met to discuss how they could meet their organizational goals and to share resources and information to encourage greater youth participation in outdoor recreation.
The meeting – said to be the largest of its kind in northeastern Minnesota – included pioneering environmental learning center leaders; public school and university educators; public school board members and administrators; and a diverse group of citizen conservationists, including the Duluth News Tribune’s respected outdoor writer Sam Cook as well as members of the Izaak Walton League.
The keynote speaker was Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Kurre discussed the DNR perspective on challenges faced by organizations working with youth, offered tips on what works, and spoke about how to improve the quality of mentoring and the need to move beyond one-day events to help youth build lasting relationships with the outdoors.
League member Ken Gilbertson, Director of the Center for Environmental Education at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, led a discussion on how to move everyone forward. All attendees agreed that they needed to frame an organizational structure to connect the resources available in the region for getting kids outdoors; work on that is proceeding.
Youth Outdoor Expo
On Saturday, more than 90 kids ages 7-17 spent a wonderful day outdoors at the Youth Fall Outdoor Expo. The youth enjoyed archery, clay bird shooting, laser gun games, water dog (retrievers) work, and upland dog (pointers) work. (The kids actually worked the dogs themselves and were awarded ribbons for their efforts.) There were stations with duck and goose decoy sets, duck and goose calling, camouflage, and blind techniques. Safety was a common theme at all stations. Habitat needs for wildlife were integrated into the water dog and upland dog stations, and another station offered lessons in wetlands ecology.
Lunch was provided by Rick and Patty Lundquist, who own a local Cold Stone Creamery, and there were several local corporate sponsors. Each youth attendee was required to bring a mentor, and Mike Kurre spoke to the group about the importance of family mentors.
Lots of folks deserve kudos for the success of this youth event, but former chapter president Darrell Spencer really has been the force behind the chapter’s Youth Outdoor Expo in the fall and a second expo in the spring. Spencer has been exemplary in his vision and in getting people to think outside the box. In December, the chapter honored Spencer with a special chapter award for his long service and leadership in getting kids outdoors.
— Dave Zentner, W.J. McCabe Chapter
Youth Outdoor Expo Committee member and former
IWLA national president