Indiana >> Ikes in northwest Indiana are grabbing outdoor education "by the tail" to get local youth and families interested in conservation and the outdoors.
"Most kids in today’s world do not know what wonderful and exciting things live just outside their windows," says Griffith Chapter president Timothy Ferguson, who previously served as the chapter’s outdoor ethics and outdoor education chairperson. He is also a volunteer hunter educator and a coach for the National Archery in the Schools program. After numerous teachers asked him to talk with students about local wildlife, Ferguson came up with the idea of a wildlife exhibit that could travel around the area.
The Wildlife Educational Exhibit of Northwest Indiana includes pelts, tails, skulls, and animal mounts donated by sportsmen. Children can touch a bobcat pelt or fox tail and examine deer skulls and duck mounts as well as numerous other local species included in the exhibit — all brought to schools free of charge. Ferguson and other chapter members also take the exhibit to youth- and family-focused community events, including those hosted by outdoor outfitters Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. For example, in June, the Wildlife Education Exhibit partnered with a local Bass Pro Shops for a "Gone Fishing" event at which the retailer gave away hundreds of free fishing rods to encourage youth to get outdoors. Fish mounts on display gave youth an idea of what they might catch in local Indiana waters.