National Hunting and Fishing Day makes education a thrill
“I am so excited to be there, I am so excited to be there, I am SO excited to be there!” was the repetitive (and increasingly louder) chant from a young child in route to the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day at the World of Energy education center at Oconee Nuclear Station.
He wasn’t the only excited guest – more than 1,000 outdoor enthusiasts participated in the event, which included rock wall climbing, lake fishing, kayaking, archery, air rifle shooting and more.
Duke Energy’s World of Energy has hosted South Carolina’s only celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day for nine years because Duke believes that education reaches far beyond the classroom and right into its backyard.
“This event gives people who might be interested in outdoor recreation like hunting or fishing, but don’t have any experience, the opportunity to participate in new experiences that might become lifelong passions,” said Greg Lucas, a representative from one of the event’s sponsors, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
One of the youngest enthusiasts, Nathaniel Watson, brought several stuffed animals – an alligator and a rabbit – as part of his contribution to National Hunting and Fishing Day. He was mesmerized by hundreds of brightly colored preserved butterflies and moths on display. Mickey Taylor brings his display from Georgia every year.
“I’ve traveled as far as Afghanistan to find some of these butterflies, and some of these I’ve found in Clemson,” Taylor said. “Some of these butterflies are more than 50 years old.”
One new exhibit at this year’s event included Cabela’s “Campsite and Water Purification Demonstration,” in which guests learned the value of filtering drinking water, a resource they can use in the future. In this case, children filtered water out of Lake Keowee and drank a glass of the purified water.
Another “sound of success” came from S.C. DNR wildlife biologist Tammy Wactor’s wildlife critters exhibit. For many children, touching a corn snake or an alligator for the first time is an exhilarating hands-on experience.
“It’s that hands-on learning that makes this event worthwhile,” World of Energy Manager B.J. Gatten said. “We get to see children do things they’ve never done before. If we can teach a child just one useful fact, we consider the event a success.”
In addition to National Hunting and Fishing Day, the World of Energy and its partners hosted a “preview day” for roughly 150 local fifth graders the day before the event – students were able to touch and hold trout, learn about water conservation and boating safety and more.
National Hunting and Fishing Day partners include Duke Energy’s World of Energy, DNR, Cabela’s, Upstate Forever, Trout Unlimited, Clemson University’s Extension Service, South Carolina 4-H Shooting Sports, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, Weatherby Foundation International, Elkmont Trading Company and Academy Sports and Outdoors.