WON Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO—The Western Outdoor News YOUTH OUTDOOR SPORTS FAIR is again returning to the 20,000-square-foot Bldg. D at Cal-Expo during the International Sportsmen's Exposition with a full complement of hand's-on, outdoor related activities to help get the youngsters of today in touch with the outdoors.

Opening at 3 p.m. on Friday and running the same hours as the ISE show on Saturday and Sunday, youngsters can learn casting, safe gun handling in the NRA airgun range, archery, turkey calling, catch-and-release fishing in Wilderness Unlimited's "Lucy's Pond" and much, much more.

New to the Youth Fair this year, "Tread Lightly!” is a national non-profit group dedicated to encouraging the responsible use of public lands and waterways through ethics, education and stewardship. Their nationally recognized Tread Trainer program uses educational materials to reach out to thousands of enthusiasts annually, in an effort to protect the natural resources we all enjoy while we visit our nation's back country.

Those visiting the booth within the Youth Fair in Bldg. D will be able to play games covering outdoor ethics as well as have their photo taken on an ATV, all free of charge.

Also new to the Youth Fair this year, and helping out at Lucy’s Pond, is “Keep Fishing;” a fishing program being created for teens. This program is to set up day and overnight fishing trips around Northern California for the under-targeted audience of new fishing license holders. Signups will be available onsite.

Partnering with the DFG Fishing Passport Program, Keep Fishing they will be handing out and stamping Passport books and doing reel cleaning demonstrations; offering youngsters standing in line a chance to change line on reels and learn the basics of reel repair.

Keep Fishing will also be donating two reels and two visors, courtesy of Shimano valued at $150.00.

The wonderful world of waterfowl will be presented by the California Waterfowl Association (CWA), an award winning 501(C)(3) nonprofit, hunter-supported conservation organization with a mission to conserve the state’s waterfowl, wetlands, and hunting heritage. In the past 20-plus years, they have completed more than 875 individual projects to protect, restore, and enhance more than 400,000 acres; providing habitat for millions of birds and animals. Their Wood Duck Program has hatched more than 580,000 ducklings, while their Banding Programs have marked more than 210,000 birds.

“Our Youth and Education Programs have reached more than 250,000 children, young adults, and families to help to create a better understanding of biology, conservation, and outdoor heritage,” George Oberstadt of Hunting Heritage Programs said. Come check out the many activities for youth of all ages at the Youth Fair in Bldg. D. They will also have many prizes for the raffles.

Joining us again, as always, the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Jakes Program, will have a booth for their Jr. Division. They will have an extensive program for boys and girls; teaching them about conservation and preservation of wild turkey and how they are interconnected and dependent on the same basic needs as other wildlife.

The National Wild Turkey Federation booth will be a fun area to get kids attention and involvement in the importance of not only conservation, but preservation. They will also be on hand to answer questions for kids and adults. On Saturday and Sunday (See Show Program) they will have a "Turkey Calling” event for the kids as well.

California B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Youth Division will be on hand to let kids try their hand at target casting, and learn a few tricks for bass fishing.

California Hawking Club will again be returning to the Youth Fair with their live birds of prey. Ever wonder what falconry is; have you ever seen these powerful birds of prey up close? The goal of California Hawking Club is to preserve the heritage of these birds of prey and to advance the art and practice of falconry. Come see what makes these birds so special.

The California Hawking Club will also be on stage (see Show Schedule) to answer questions, give a quick history of the sport and how it is practiced today. What are the species of raptor used in the practice of falconry? What are the species of game taken in falconry, and how the club is working to preserve the art and sport of falconry for future generations are all part of what you will learn.

The Department of Fish and Game Hunter Education group will be on-site again with their simulated Laser Hunt program, and all the information you need to get your youngsters involved in hunter safety and becoming a responsible hunter.

"We will have our Hunter Education Booth set up with all kinds of stuff, including the Laser Shot where boys and girls can shoot at different targets, and we will be teaching some of the gun safety requirements at the same time," said long time volunteer and hunter ed instructor Bill Adams. "There will be other hands-on items for the youth to discover the different kinds of wildlife.

And, of course, the Bowhunters Educational Foundation will have volunteers from many of the local archery clubs on hand to help teach youngsters of all ages the proper procedures for getting into archery, with their own archery range and a variety of bows and arrows for free use.

The main attraction, of course, is the huge "Lucy's Pond" with its waterfall and river, loaded with trout from the California Department of Fish and Game and manned by volunteers from Wilderness Unlimited, where youngsters can catch and release their own rainbow trout.

Free giveaways will be held for kids 15 and under twice a day on Saturday and Sunday, and there will be many other activities and events at Center Stage, including the Radio Disney/Cal. Boating and Waterways Kid Caster Tryouts, the AquaSmart water safety puppet show, turkey calling fun times with the National Wild Turkey Federation and much, much more.

There is nothing for sale or purchase in the Western Outdoor News YOUTH OUTDOOR SPORTS FAIR, everything in the building is free, and dedicated towards educating youngsters about the benefit of the outdoor life.

Major sponsors of the Western Outdoor News YOUTH OUTDOOR SPORTS FAIR are what keeps it running, since there are no monies raised at the Youth Fair; entrance is free, and there is nothing for sale inside the Youth Fair building.

And yet, there are over 300 volunteers a day working to teach the youngsters inter-active, outdoor related sports and activities, and the cost of parking, providing drinks and food is substantial.

Stepping up to the plate since the inception of the Youth Fair almost two decades ago, California Waterfowl Association (CWA) has been on the list of major sponsors, and continues in its support.

The National Rifle Association and local NRA groups have also been at the forefront in support of the YOSF, committing funds and volunteers for the Harry Caviani airgun range every year.

California Inland Fisheries Foundation, Inc. (CIFFI) has been a long-time supporter of the YOUTH OUTDOOR SPORTS FAIR during the ISE show, and this year, they are joined by one of their affiliates, Project Eagle Lake Trout (PELT.)

PELT began in 2004 with the intent of increasing the number of trout in Eagle Lake, and after helping streamline the egg-taking process, they have since paid for feed and maintenance of fish at the hatcheries to keep the Eagle Lake trout longer so they would be bigger and heartier.

This year, for the first time, the California Deer Association (CDA) has joined as a supporting sponsor of the Youth Fair, and they will be at the Youth Fair itself providing information about the valuable services they provide to maintain a healthy population of deer in California.

CICC Outdoor Adventures out of Colusa has been the major sponsor of the Youth Fair for the past two years, and their dedication to the youth of California, and to our states hunting heritage says volumes about where their heart is. They offer a variety of hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the north state.

We thank our Major Sponsors, and invite others to help out in the years to come by contacting WON Editor and founder of the YOSF, Bill Karr, at WONNORTH@pacbell.net.