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Youth is served in the great outdoors

A group of hunters recently volunteered in an effort to expose kids to the outdoors and teach them what it’s like to be a hunter. But whether they’re holding a rifle or a fishing rod, outdoor enthusiasts say it’s important to get youth outside in hopes th

June 18, 2011
Story, photos by Jenny Kirk , Marshall Independent
MINNEOTA The dazzling smile on 7-year-old Paige Viaene’s face said it all. With school out for the summer, Viaene could easily have stayed home Saturday morning to watch cartoons or play X-Box or PlayStation games, concerns many parents have with their children during the summer months. “I don’t like them to sit there and whittle away on games,” said Ryan Viaene of Cottonwood, who encouraged his daughter Paige and son Parker, 10, to attend the Youth Outdoor Activity Day sponsored by the Southwest Sportmen’s Club in Minneota. “I’d rather have them get outside and use their minds. I had to work, but I took time off so that they could do this.” Paige was one of 27 kids from around the area to participate in the annual outdoor event, which allowed them the opportunity to safely try out a number of activities at separate stations. “I like being outside,” Paige said after her first archery experience. “It was like a gun. It was pretty cool. I can’t wait to do it again.” Because she was left-handed, only one bow was available for her to use. Though somewhat difficult to pull back, Paige never faltered in her effort to hit one of the balloon targets, grinning the entire time. “A smile like that makes it all worth it,” said club member Galen Boerboom, one of many volunteers assisting with the event. Along with David Lyon, David Kabes helped organize the youth program. Keith Anderson had the sprawling landscape looking in tip-top shape. “We all hunt, so why not share that passion with kids?” Kabes said. “It gives the kids an opportunity to do something outdoors.” The Viaenes often sit together in deer stands in the fall. “The kids always want to go with,” Ryan Viaene said. “Besides being outside, the best part is spending time together. That’s what I like.” Area youth also had the opportunity to reel in “a big one” at the annual Minnesota Take-A-Kid Fishing weekend June 10-12. “I heard that a 5-year-old girl caught a 31-inch walleye with a Barbie pole on Lake Sarah,” said Justin Lightfoot, a professional fishing guide. Lightfoot said he saw a lot of people on the lakes this past weekend, but wasn’t sure if they were taking advantage of the no-license required event or if they already had a fishing license. “People hardly take the time to teach their kids how to fish anymore,” he said. “They’d rather pass out video games nowadays.” When Lightfoot was growing up, fishing was a priceless occurrence. “It’s about getting outdoors and passing on a tradition,” he said. “Everybody’s grandpa or dad took them fishing. It’s a time you enjoyed as a kid. When I was a kid, my grandpa took me out bullhead fishing. It was the only time I wasn’t working. It was a fun time in the summer.” Scott Gile of Cottonwood brought his son Logan and daughter Megan to the Minneota event. “There aren’t enough kids out in the outdoors,” he said. “My kids have been shooting since they were five. Logan wants to start trapping.” Eight-year-old Megan, who said she also likes to swim and play outside with the daycare kids, prefers archery. “I like shooting the bow,” she said. Lydia Sussner, 11, of Minneota, has her own bow and also enjoys target shooting. She was one of the participants to get an added bonus, a quarter, for popping a balloon target Saturday. “I enjoy it,” she said. Logan Sussner said he liked shooting different weapons. In the summer, he’s also involved in summer recreation programs and baseball. “My parents like me to get out and do stuff,” he said. Kabes’ grandson, Tyler Hagl, of Sauk Centre, couldn’t wait to get to the .22 rifle station. “I like outdoor stuff, but I’m not very good at shooting a bow,” Hagl said. “I’m in heaven now. I love shooting guns.” Soon-to-be seventh-grader Ann DeSmet has been doing archery for 4-H for two years and wouldn’t mind being an instructor someday. But she wasn’t nearly as sold on the 20-gauge shotgun used for trap shooting. “I don’t like shooting moving targets,” DeSmet said. “I can’t hit them.” Bret Haar of Granite Falls blasted both of the clay pigeons on his attempt. “I usually don’t hit them that good,” Haar said. “I think I do better when I have more pressure.” While the groups were separated for the shooting apparatuses, they came together indoors for the trapping seminar and predator calling session. Brothers Dalton and Chris Larson of Balaton, were the first to try sounding like a wounded rabbit. While meek at first, the duo quickly got the hang of it. “It’s my first time doing an event like this,” Dalton Larson said. At the conclusion, young participants and volunteers joined together at the clubhouse for lunch. While waiting for his ride, Garret Reisdorfer of Arco took the time to shake hands with and thank the volunteers. “I had a good time,” Reisdorfer said.

Article Photos

With some assistance from instructor Galen Boerboom, Paige Viaene, 7, of Cottonwood tries her hand at archery at the youth outdoor activity day sponsored by the Southwest Sportsmen’s Club in Minneota Saturday.



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