Wyoming Outdoor Expo returns to Casper
Casper – After a brief hiatus as a result of budget cuts, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) brought the Wyoming Outdoor Expo back to Casper the weekend of May 17-19, with the goal of engaging Wyomingites with the outdoors around them.
“The charge to bring the Wyoming Outdoor Expo back was led by Commissioner Pat Crank, who was really passionate about the fact that this event and engaging youth and adults help them understand and care about our wildlife and wild places,” says Kathryn Boswell, WGFD hunter and angler participation coordinator. “We brought the outdoor expo back with an expanded focus.
Expanding and growing
While the expo has been focused on hunting and fishing in the past, Boswell explains that WGFD made the event more broad this year, adding outdoor recreation, as well as the opportunity for commercial vendors to have displays at the event.
“We added an outdoor recreation component this year and partnered with the Office of Outdoor Recreation, to really give folks lots of opportunities to try new things,” Boswell explains. “Moving into spring and summer, we felt like it’s an opportunity for people to plan their summer and how they’ll recreate and enjoy all Wyoming has to officer.”
Expanding the expo to include outdoor recreation was one way WGFD revitalized the event, and it also allowed WGFD to cast a broader net and reach more partners, both in the non-profit conservation community and with retail partners.
“We expanded our opportunity for retail partners, which was another great way to include more people,” Boswell says.
The first two days of the event, May 17-18, focused on educational opportunities for students within the state.
“We invited schools to come to the Wyoming Outdoor Expo on Thursday and Friday, and we planned an educational rotation system during that time,” Boswell explains. “Students rotate through in 15 or 35 minute segments to learn things that their teachers identify as of interest to students.”
The rotations were developed to provide more structured educational opportunities, as compared to year’s past, a move that yielded positive reactions from teachers and students alike.
The event was also open to the general public all three days and featured a variety of educational opportunities related to conservation, wildlife, recreation, hunting, fishing and more.
“This year, we also had a field dressing demonstration tent, which was a big success,” Boswell says. “We will be bringing that tent back next year, as well.”
Trek into Summer
In addition to new programming at the Wyoming Outdoor Expo, WGFD added a passport game called, “Trek Into Summer” at the event.
“’Trek into Summer’ allowed youth and adults to learn new things in four categories. They were required to go to two exhibits from each category to complete the game,” Boswell explains, noting that categories included fishing and aquatic habitats; wildlife, habitat and conservation; hunting and shooting skills; and outdoor recreation gear, skills and safety.
Participants who filled their passport won a fishing pole, and youth under the age of 18 with 10 years of continuous Wyoming residency were entered into a drawing for a lifetime small game, fishing and upland bird license and conservation stamp.
“Nine of those prizes were donated from various conservation groups and supporters around the state,” Boswell says. “It was really special to have that component this year.”
“We’ll be back in Casper May 9-11, 2019 for the Wyoming Outdoor Expo,” Boswell comments. “We have lots of ideas to improve and some new things to try for next year. While we’re still in the evaluation phase from this year, we feel good about the steps we’ve taken to expand our offering and include outdoor recreation. I think our new structure will accommodate growth and increased participation.”
The Wyoming Outdoor Expo was offered for by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office, Casper Events Center and Visit Casper, as well as a number of sponsors.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.