Children learn about outdoors fun

Although she didn’t have her pink Disney princess fishing pole, Brielle Krizman was all smiles Saturday.

Finally, after a winter of asking when it would be time to go fishing again, Brielle, 4, got the answer she wanted when she and her dad, Mark Krizman, cast a line into the pond at Riverbend Park to try and land their first rainbow trout of the spring.

“Whoa,” Brielle, of Grand Junction, said as her dad flicked the line and bobber into the water.

Brielle was one of countless children who attended the free Outdoor Heritage Day event Saturday in at Riverbend Park in Palisade. Dozens of agencies, businesses and organizations offered free, supervised activities for children to emphasize how fun it is to be outdoors.

The children could fish, pan for gold, shoot with bows and guns, and learn about the area’s weather, animals and environment in one spot.

Fruita Monument High School agriculture instructor Ryan Hudson and several of his students even assembled 1,000 fishing rods and reels to give to children.

This was the seventh year of the event.

Art Graham, volunteer co-chair for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Colorado, remembers the first year when 87 children came to his booth to take target practice with a BB gun. Last year, he saw 2,100.

The Foundation’s volunteers teach the children about hunting, conservation and safety, and the kids take their target home.

“I got it in the bull’s-eye twice,” said Rifle’s Colton Shoup, 7, showing off his elk target. Shoup was standing in line to shoot an air gun at the Colorado Mule Deer Association booth.

The shooting events — Colorado Parks and Wildlife set up a hunting trailer so children could shoot .22-caliber rifles under supervision — were Shoup’s favorite, but he also fished — “I got a bite” — and learned about endangered fish of the region.

The lines at each of the booths, as well as the circle of children around the pond, demonstrated how popular an event like Outdoor Heritage Day is. Not even the wind or threat of rain could keep hundreds of children away.

“Get them off the couch and outside,” Graham said. “Look where we live.”


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