Explore The Outdoors Festival at Live Oak Landing a huge success

October 7, 2012

Carson Langford liked the butterfly exhibit naturalist Joe Wyatt provided. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Families enjoyed a great day exploring the outdoors

Walton Outdoors is happy to announce the Explore The Outdoors Festival on Oct. 6th 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, stand up paddle boarding, wildlife encounters, interactive educational exhibits 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!

Fishing and boating were just two of the many fun activities at the Explore The Outdoors Festival Oct. 6, 2012. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Grateful thanks go out to our sponsors: 331 Pool and Beach Supply, Kindness Pet Hospital, For The Health of It Natural Food Store, Kiwanis Club of Freeport/South Walton, Fish Florida, The Alys Foundation, Gulf Coast Insulation, Jane Burns/Edward Jones Investments, Copy Systems, Nonie’s Ark Animal Encounters, Resorts of Pelican Beach, Bass Pro Shop, Wal Mart, Publix and Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop.

Wonderful interactive presenters included:
• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Outreach program who educated children on salt and 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. Great things going on here!
• 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 an alligator! 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!

This statuesque Mississippi Kite was a favorite at the Festival. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

• Kayaking with Matt LaBow from South Walton Outfitters. The kids loved paddling around along Black Creek. Thank you Matt for the non-stop fun!
• Stand up paddle boarding with Laura Talbert from YOLO Board Adventures at WaterColor. Thank you Laura for getting so many kids up on a YOLO board, some for the first time!
• The always interesting educational information from Susan Leveille from Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. The great horned owl and gopher tortoise are always wonderful. The folks from ECWR work hard rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife along the Emerald Coast.
Nonie’s Ark Animal Encounters and her EDUtaining the children on snakes and spiders and bugs, oh my! Kids love Nonie!
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.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park sea turtle and snake exhibit. Thank you Ranger Dan and Park Service Specialist Jeff for educating families about our natural world and getting folks to look a little closer!

Nonie Edutaining! Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

St. Andrew’s State Park exhibit was wonderful with interesting bones and other interesting things found along our beach dunes. Thank you Tammy Mathews for providing the hands on fun. Great to see kids picking things up and examining!
• Butterfly exhibit with naturalist Joe Wyatt was fascinating. 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.
• Always wonderful and informative Lisa Miller from the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center brought a Mississippi kite a screech owl and a skunk. Thank you Lisa for all of your incredible knowledge and keeping everyone fascinated. The folks at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center educate children about our natural environment on a daily basis. Incredible!
• Forestry exhibit teaches everyone the our forests, why there are prescribed burns and what it takes to make a healthy forest.
• Florida Sea Grant’s ‘Small Fry Fishing Adventure with tips for Mom and Dad Too’ was a hit with fishing and casting practice. In no time the kids were getting the hang of it.
• Matching the animal tracks with Emerald Coast Science Center had kids looking closer at things… hands on learning about wildlife!
• Kids learned to cast a line with Bass Pro Shop fishing pro Tony Bigot.
• Freeport Fire Department put on very cool demonstrations with their water rescue boat!

Walton Outdoors would also like to thank the wonderful volunteers who helped the day run smoothly: Laurie Von Kaenel and the great volunteers from AmeriCorps, Sherry McCall, Kerrie Thompson, Jamie Conley, Susan Petro, Jeff Ragland, Carolyn Poole, Kris Meigs, Karen Boudreaux, Marianne Burbach and the incredible staff at Live Oak Landing.

About Walton Outdoors:
Walton Outdoors is the online source for outdoor adventure in Walton County, Florida and surrounding area. Our mission is to educate and share information about great places to explore along with promoting outdoor family oriented activities. For more information call (850) 267-2064.