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Hunting, fishing nearly absent from Greene County Youth Fair

August 4, 2017 - 05:12 pm

Let me begin by saying the Greene County Youth Fair is a very special event. Held in the county in July since local farmer Alfred Partridge founded the fair in 1949, it remains one of the few of its kind in the state.

According to its website, “today, the fair attracts more than 20,000 people and is one of the only fairs in New York state to offer free admission and entertainment. The Greene County Youth Fair remains a celebration of the talents of local youth, enabling them to strive for higher goals and receive support from family, friends and their community.”

It is a warm, local fair which is as welcoming to those from outside the area as it is to locals and old friends. Youth organizations such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America are to be commended for providing our youth with a real connection to agriculture and the outdoors. The volunteers who make it happen, and those who contribute to the fair, are worthy of our support for this unique, home-spun gathering.

What struck me this year was the fact that the only representation for hunting and fishing was the Cairo Fish and Game Club; a long-time regular at the fair.

NY Bowhunters, the only other hunting organization that regularly attends the Greene County Youth Fair, was unable to attend this year. The Youth Archery Shooting Booth they set-up (which you may remember was sponsored and run by NY Bowhunters at the kids fishing derby at the point last month), was surely missed at the fair this year, but I was assured will return next year.

DEC, the agency charged with promoting hunting, fishing and trapping, was once again, conspicuous by its absence.

DEC just announced it is collecting email addresses of those who buy hunting, fishing and trapping licenses to better recruit and retain licensees due to shifting demographics. That’s a fancy way of saying there’s no guarantee there will be enough hunters, fishermen and trappers to support conservation through license sales and provide harvests essential to the management of our wildlife populations in the future, if we do not recruit new sportsmen and retain current ones.

There was a time many years ago, when DEC did attend the Greene County Youth Fair. They sported tanks of trout and other interesting displays that were big hits with youth and adults alike. All while spreading the message of the wise use of our natural resources and the need to get outdoors and get involved.

That message was not delivered at the Youth Fair by DEC this year. At a time when recruitment of youth hunters, fishers and trappers seems to be all the more critical, in my view, the need for DEC to attend the Green County Youth Fair is clear.

In Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” the author seeks to spark a national dialogue between educators, parents, conservationists and anyone who will listen that can help re-connect our youth to the outdoors.

Its premise is that it’s essential for their emotional/mental health and development, as well as their physical health, to spend time outdoors in natural settings. What better way to accomplish that than by getting our youth out hunting, fishing, trapping and the like?

Organizations like the Greene County Federation of Sportsman do great work in their active support of youth hunting and fishing. They host youth pheasant hunts, youth fishing derbies and send kids to DEC camp, but they do not attend the Greene County Youth Fair.

In past articles, I have sung the well-deserved praises of the tireless volunteers that make up the federation, its clubs, as well as national organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Ducks Unlimited (DU), Trout Unlimited (TU), to name a few, that actively invite youth hunters to organized hunts and participation in the shooting sports and the outdoors. I have also suggested local clubs re-examine and open-up their membership criteria and to conduct membership drives to ensure the future of their organizations. What I’d like to do now is present a challenge:

My challenge to DEC is this — attend and support the 2018 Greene County Youth Fair by providing staff, displays and a clear message to the youth of Greene County and all who pass through, that they support youth hunting, fishing and trapping and are doing all they can to connect our youth to the outdoors.

I challenge the Greene County Federation of Sportsmen and national organizations like NWTF, DU, TU and other similar organizations to actively attend next year’s fair.

Maybe all these organizations can consider a strategy to overlap coverage of each other’s venues to reduce staffing needs. A little communication can go a long way to providing mutual support to help each other get the right message out to our youth.

Remember, if we don’t show our youth the value of the outdoors in an increasingly indoor, digital society, we may be ensuring the “Last Child in the Woods…” is already in our midst.

News and Notes

— The 23rd Annual Columbia-Greene Friends of NRA Banquet will be held on Aug. 12 at Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Leeds. Doors open at 4 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, call Mike Conway at 518-537-5441.

— The RoeJan Creek Boat Club is hosting a Chicken BBQ on Aug. 13. Food and fair, including clams, will be available starting at 1 p.m. Cost is $12 for adults and just $6 for kids under 12.

— Sadly, on the 4th of July this year, area sportsmen and women lost another ardent supporter with the passing of Dorothy “Dotty” R. Story, 82, of Acra. Dotty was the wife of long-time Cairo Fish and Game Club Treasurer, Bob Story. Bob didn’t have to tell me that without the loving support of his wife, he would not have been able to continue his many years of support of hunting, fishing and trapping. Of course, once again, on July 29 Bob was among the members of the Cairo Fish & Game Club supporting our youth at this year’s Green County Youth Fair. My condolences go out to Bob and his family as I say thank you for your tireless work and support for the youth of Greene County.

Happy Hunting, and Fishing, and be safe until next time.

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