Families enjoyed a great day exploring the outdoors
Walton Outdoors is happy to announce the Explore The Outdoors Festival on Nov. 2 was a huge success. The day of introducing children to the wonders of the outdoors was enjoyed by hundreds of families.
The event was held along the beautiful waterfront location of Live Oak Landing Outdoor Destination in Freeport. Hands on activities included fishing, boating, kayaking, wildlife encounters, interactive educational exhibits, crafts and much more under the shade trees along Black Creek.
Walton Outdoors gives thanks and gratitude to our sponsors and energetic volunteers who also believe getting outdoors is good for you. We would not of been able to pull it off without your support. THANK YOU!
Wonderful interactive presenters included:
• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Outreach program who educated children on fresh water fishing conservation. Thank you for providing the rods and reels for everyone to fish with along with the popular fish identification posters and valuable educational information! Getting kids started right… FWC rocks!
• Fish Florida… we cannot thank you enough! Providing fishing rods/reels to the attendees. They were over the top excited and lining up to get started on learning how to to fish! Thank you for doing all you do! Fish Florida makes it possible for so many children in Florida to have the opportunity to explore fishing along our waterways.
• Boat rides with Wounded Warrior Fishing Charter’s Mark McDuffie who gave several families their first boating experience and for a lucky few, a view of dolphins on the river! Thank you Mark for all you do for the Wounded Warrior Program and our community.
• Boat rides along Black Creek with Steve ‘Bassin’ Bynum who gave fun rides to families on his company’s “Pondtoon” boats. Fun, small boats geared to explore our local fresh water areas. Thank you Steve!
• Kayaking with kayaks from Yellowfin Ocean Sports. The kids loved paddling around along Black Creek. Thank you for lending us some great kayaks!
• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife exhibit with Justin Davis and Mallory Wilkins had great animal furs for kids to touch and learn about along with a few other wildlife tidbits.
• Topsail Hill Preserve State Park bones and critters exhibit. Thank you Ranger Tammy and Park Service Specialist Jeff for educating families about our natural world and getting folks to look a little closer!
• Camp Helen State Park exhibit exhibit with Park Service Specialist Dan was wonderful with interesting wildlife found along beaches, along with a bobcat and baby bear.
• Henderson Beach State Park exhibit with Lynda Smith was all things from along the beach.
• The always interesting educational information from Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. The barred owl, skunk and gopher tortoise are always wonderful. The folks from ECWR work hard rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife along the Emerald Coast.
• Choctawhatchee Audubon Society’s birding education and fun games for the kids. Thank you for bringing valuable information to families and engaging them in the wonderful birding experience. Getting the younger generation into birding is a beautiful thing.
• Butterfly exhibit with naturalist Joe Wyatt. Kids learned about butterfly migration along with handling and releasing gulf fritillaries and monarchs.
• Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance touch tank is always a hit! Kids got to dip their hands into the sea life that surrounds us. The folks at Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance monitor and protect the waterways along our waterways. Good folks doing great things.
• South Walton Turtle Watch had a great exhibit that illustrated what a sea turtle’s nest looks like on the inside.
• Forestry exhibit teaches everyone the our forests, why there are prescribed burns and what it takes to make a healthy forest.
• Freeport Fire Department had great giveaways in fire hats for the little ones.
• Walton County Sheriff’s Office displayed their beautiful rescue boat with Deputy Jason Day.
• Freeport Planter’s Society had a fun bee making craft exhibit along with local beekeeper Earl Barrett teaching folks all about bees.
• Northwest Florida Astronomy Club showed attendees a view of sun spots and flares.
Walton Outdoors would also like to thank the wonderful volunteers who gave their time and made the day: Walton County Sheriff’s Office Posse, Laurie Von Kaenel and the great volunteers from AmeriCorps, Fred Provost, Judi Russell, Shari Scudder, Michel Laxon, Sherry McCall, Jane Burns, Jeff Ragland, Carolyn Poole, Frank Day, Kris Meigs, Gina Burns, Carie Leyden, Marianne Burbach, Elizabeth Eich, Gwen Break and the helpful staff at Live Oak Landing.
Grateful thanks go out to our sponsors: Gulf Coast Insulation, Freeport Planters Society, Kindness Pet Hospital, For The Health of It Natural Food Store, ResortQuest, Kiwanis Club of Freeport/South Walton, Fish Florida, Big Daddy’s Bike Shop, Jane Burns/Edward Jones Investments, Copy Systems, Publix and Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop.