July 25, 2013 - 11:38 AM
"THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS ARE GOING TO BE THE NEXT STEWARDS OF THE ENVIRONMENT"
LAKE COUNTRY - For Sean Richardson, hunting and fishing with his kids is about cultivating a relationship between parent and child, human and nature, sustenance and sustainability.
Historically, young people had much more exposure to these activities; in many instances it meant survival. Now, Richardson is one of relatively few parents who still teach their kids how to hunt, fish, and survive in the woods. To Richardson, this is a shame not just for parents and their kids, but for the environment as well.
A lifelong fisherman and hunter, Richardson joined Lake Country's Oceola Fish and Game Club two years ago and was stunned to see there were hardly any members his age or younger.
"I looked around the room and saw a lot of silver and grey," Richardson says. "I realized we were missing an entire generation."
Oceola's member-base was growing increasingly senior. Whether it was lack of interest, time or ability, those raising young families hadn't been joining for years. Richardson, who joined Oceola for its emphasis on conservation, worried young people weren't getting a chance to experience the outdoors and learn to respect them.
"I realized a lot of our healthy animal and fish populations were the result of Fish and Game Clubs," Richardson says. "Fish and wildlife aren't going to take care of themselves."
He says the club does much more than just hunt. They're out clearing streams, cleaning up garbage, and supporting Khokanee populations by hatching fry and releasing them back into the creek.
"We're kind of the eyes and ears of the wildlife," he says. "It's only once or twice a year that we actually pull the trigger."
For his kids, hunting provides exercise, nutritious meat, and an understanding of the natural world.
"They get to learn about habitats, why certain animals live in certain places," Richardson says. "They learn that food comes from animals."
Without that connection, he fears young people won't care about the environment enough to protect it in a future where it will need all the help it can get.
"The younger generations are going to be the next stewards of the environment," he says.
To raise interest in the club and the wildlife of the Okanagan, Oceola has created Community Youth Day. The Aug. 18 event will showcase the club's many projects and feature archery and fly fishing demonstrations.
"We're trying to expose kids to the various things the club does, and to foster that interest in the animals, fish and birds around us," Richardson, now the club's youth director, says. "If we can get kids interested, we can get parents involved and get that lost generation back."
The event will be held at the Oceola Habitat Preserve on Bottom Wood Lake Road from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Sean Richardson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013