Youth learn about out door thrills Featured

"What did you do over break?" will be the go-to question for every student when they return to school next Monday.
For a few lucky kids, their answer to that query will be wholly unique.
Dr. AHM Reza, associate professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Delta State, partnered with Nathan Aycock at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to organize a Spring Youth Outdoor Camp.
This is the inaugural year for the camp.
Reza said he wanted to put on the camp because, "Nationwide, the number of trained sportsmen is decreasing. We need to introduce children at an early age to not only the safety required for these activities, but also to the science involved so they can understand how being a sportsman also contributes to conservation efforts."
Approximately 30 students are participating in the camp.
Reza and Aycock are assisted by six Delta State biology students: James Allen, Christian Frew, Hope Edge, Bethany Walker, Charlotte Ming, and Kyle Partridge.
Children enrolled in the camp range in age from nine to 11, and their goals for the week are equally varied.
Elizabeth Havens, 11, said she "wants to learn about how to identify the different types of local Mississippi trees" when the students go to Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday.
In addition to trees and other plants, students will also learn about identifying both vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife, such as bird, turtles, and insects.
Some students have more specific goals.
Aiden Rigers, nine, said he wants "to learn more about science and wants catch at least one fish" when the campers go fishing at Bear Pen Park on Tuesday.
Alseny Camara, 10, already knows how to fish, but he is looking forward to learning "how to clean fish for myself."
Students will spend time on Tuesday learning how to choose the correct bait for the fish they are trying to catch.
They will learn proper casting technique, how to identify their catch, and how to safely clean and use the fish they harvest.
Students will also learn about water quality and how it can impact the fish populations.
Some students are already involved in hunting and fishing but they are hoping to learn more about how to hone those skills this week.
Colby Norquist, 10, said, "I like being outdoors and wants to become an epic hunter."
His goal for the week is, "to accomplish all of the projects they give me and learn as much as I can." While there, students will be instructed in the basics of hunter safety, and get to do some target practice with pellet guns.
They will also learn how scientists use tranquilizer guns to tag and monitor animals in the wild.
They will even get the opportunity to "track" one of the DSU students, who is helping with the camp, so they can get a feel for how the equipment really works.
The camp is designed to be accessible to all students both in terms of familiarity with outdoors skills and financial background.
The cost of the camp including snacks and lunch was $125.
There were also two scholarships available for students who wrote a brief essay explaining why they wanted to participate and how the experience would be important to them.
When camp wraps on Thursday with a celebratory bar-b-que, students will go home worth more than just knowledge.
They will also have some of the resources to practice the skills that have learned through out the week, as each camper will receive their own pair of binoculars and new fishing gear.
Reza said, "I would like to continue the camp in future years, and hopefully we will have the financial and community support to do so."
For more information on the camp or the program, visit


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