The annual Wildlife Expo, presented by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, in conjunction with other conservation agencies, is free to the public. Attendees enjoy interactive seminars, free food via Taste of the Wild and a wide variety of hands-on activities for all age groups. Visitors can also take part in outdoor activities, while learning about organizations and agencies who work diligently together to conserve Oklahoma's wildlife.
Participating in this annual event allows U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, to share the Corps' water safety mission with large amounts of people in a relatively short amount of time.
Deputy Operations Project Manager, Jake Ellison, says the event provides an opportunity for the Corps to strengthen its relationship with ODWC colleagues, with whom the Corps often works directly in the management of the majority of Wildlife Management Areas across the region.
While this is a three-day affair, Friday's schedule is primarily dedicated to school children. Throughout the day, parking lots are lined with school buses. Kids from fourth to twelfth grade learn about wildlife management and identification, fishing and responsible use of hunting equipment.
According to Eufaula Lake Ranger, Carly Lynch, who has worked the event the last four years, "It is total chaos, but worth every minute. We make a ton of water safety contacts and build some really good relationships with teachers, students and chaperones," said Lynch. "It's very rewarding to answer the many diverse questions we receive from the general public."
For those who aren't into wildlife or fishing but who still enjoy the outdoors, there is a free rock climbing wall, as well as mountain biking, shooting and art exhibits.
"The event as a whole has molded into a staple for the outdoor community and a great way to introduce kids to outdoor activities," said George Mayfield, Canton lake ranger.
Family friendly activities are on the agenda and open to everyone on Saturday and Sunday. The Expo offers both indoor and outdoor activities with a variety of interactive events, seminars and demonstrations centered on wildlife and the great outdoors.
Additionally, attendees are provided opportunities to learn rope making skills, basket weaving, ATV safety and dog training. Indoors, the opportunities range from master gardening and outdoor crafts to finding the queen of a bee hive. If your interest leans more toward birds, visitors may learn about falconry, turkeys and migratory bird species.
"To learn more about this event or other activities planned throughout year, I would encourage folks to visit our official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usacetulsa," added Lynch.