Hunting with Derek

By Thea Miller Ryan

The Outdoor Campus was given a few hefty goals in our new SD Game, Fish and Parks education plan. There were times we scratched our heads and had to put our bright orange hunter safety caps to come up with ideas to meet those goals.

One was to participate in Harvest SD, a program began in the last year to help develop introductory and advanced hunting and fishing clinics for individuals and families, taking participants from beginner to advanced skill sets. Harvest SD was a statewide program that was off to a good start. Jason and Sandy at The Outdoor Campus East upped our game with shooting classes, cooking classes and ways to bring local flavor and produce from field to plate. In Rapid City and Pierre, hunting classes were taking individuals from beginner to success in the field.

Sioux Falls had a unique dilemma, though. There were many urban youth and adults who had no experience in the outdoors, yet they wanted to put food on their family table and gain a better understanding of the whole food process – how it gets from a farm field to their plate. Derek Klawitter, Outdoor Campus East staff, had the expertise to make that happen. The program needed a name though. At the last minute, we threw it out there. What was going to happen? People were going to hunt with Derek. The name Hunting with Derek was given to the program, basically for lack of a better name, but it does sum up what happens.

46499253_1800811493378549_3171989246818910208_nIt started at the gun range. Derek’s hand-picked students met him one-on-one to learn about guns, firearm safety, hunting ethics and how to shoot. Derek spoke with many landowners who agreed to participate in this new fun program. On the scheduled date and time, the students learned lifelong skills on their road to becoming a hunter. By sunset, almost every time, they had their first deer or turkey.

“I had a great time mentoring hunters and teaching them the knowledge base that I have, in hopes that they will become lifelong hunters and mentors themselves some day,” Derek said.

For more information or to get involved with this program, call Derek at The Outdoor Campus: 605.362.2777.

 

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Top 10 Skills I Learned Working at The Outdoor Campus

Top 10 Skills I Learned Working at The Outdoor Campus

By Lydia Olson

For a lot of full time workers, skills like interpersonal communication, team work, time management and organization are necessary for day to day work. At The Outdoor Campus, I definitely use these skills but I found out real fast that my skill-set would be  much different than expected.  Working outdoors with a lot of different ages, especially children, I knew I would have to switch gears from previous work environments.  Even though I had prepared myself for this change in pace, I was still surprised by the unique and specific skills I had to use almost every day at TOC. I learned a lot this summer and I want to share with the world my Top 10 Skills that have come in handy for me while working at The Outdoor Campus.

  1. Fish Cleaning

When I was younger, my great uncle taught me how to clean fish. I love to clean fish, but I never imagined that I would actually teach children and adults this skill someday. Teaching fish cleaning has been quite the experience, especially with children. When you have 5-7 kids all at once, holding knives, it can make you a little nervous. Once it was all said and done, seeing the proud smiles of these kids made it super rewarding, and definitely worth the stress.

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2. Setting up a huge archery net alone with gusting winds

My very first day working here I was taught how to set up the archery range for class. I was thinking, “this net can’t be that heavy”, but oh boy was I wrong. I actually learned that it takes two people to put up this net, and it is still a little challenging. So you can imagine what I was feeling putting the net up by myself in what felt like a tornado.

3. Dodging hooks while fishing with children

Anyone who works with children will tell you it is hard work. Now add fishing hooks; this is a whole new level of dangerous. When I teach younger children to fish I always say “if you want me to put the bait on for you I will, but you have to wait in line”. Well usually there is never a line that is actually formed (it is more like a cluster of children fighting their way to the front to get their hooks baited). I think I have become a pro at dodging hooks this summer; I’ve had a lot of practice. Now it is time for me to practice dodging fish, kids still do not know how to keep those away from my face.

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4. Being able to fix a fishing pole in under 2 minutes

Knowing how to fix a fishing pole is a great advantage to have while working here, but an even bigger advantage is being able to do it in less than two minutes. We have a lot of fishing classes here and with those classes come a lot of broken poles. Fixing each pole under two minutes enables me to move onto the next task quickly.

5. Wood Burning

One of the other interns introduced me to wood burning; she was making signs for the classroom doors.  At the time it looked so easy, I was excited to try it. Well it is actually quite difficult to do. I have gradually gotten a little better, but my skills are in need of some improvement. I have come a long way, but I am nowhere close to being a pro.

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6. Flipping Kayaks

Whenever I go kayaking, whether it is here at TOC or on a river elsewhere, I am highly skilled in flipping kayaks over. If you ever find yourself tipped over in the water, I am the one to call. But if I don’t answer, call one of the other interns. Ha.

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7. Understand all types of jokes; aka Derek jokes

Here at TOC we like to have a lot of fun. There are quite a few odd jokes that circulate through the group, but no matter how awkward they are, these jokes always make us smile. Here are just a few jokes that have stuck with the group.

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Hum.. you’d be good at Plinko

*Speaking to a CPR dummy* Wow, tastes like pepperoni pizza 

8. Conquering your fear on a daily basis. AKA not screaming when seeing snakes.

Whenever I see a snake, I am easily frightened. I don’t think it is entirely because of the snake, but the actual surprise of seeing them that gets me every time. I know they do good things to the environment and I wouldn’t wish harm on them, but when they come slithering by me it takes every ounce of me not to jump and scream. I have finally reached that point where I don’t freak out when I see them, but it came one class too late.

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9. Be able to catch the frog on the first time in the aquarium

At The Outdoor Campus we teach a lot frog classes. We like to bring out live frogs to show the kids. But, did you know frogs are super slimy and quite difficult to catch? Our frog has escaped many times and trying to catch it can be somewhat stressful. But if you are like me and are able to catch the frog on the first escape, you are succeeding in life.

10. Using a ratchet strap

Before working here I was able to use a ratchet strap it would just take me a second to remember how it works. Well after having to use one a lot I have the skills to just pick it up hook it all up and strap whatever needs to be strapped down.

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Growing in Nature Through My Summer Internship; an Ode to The Outdoor Campus

Growing in Nature Through My Summer Internship; an Ode to The Outdoor Campus

By Dana LeVan

Hi, a quick introduction about me. My name is Dana LeVan and I am a double Major in  Music Education and Spanish at Augustana University. I was born and raised near Sioux Falls and I am currently a Naturalist Intern at The Outdoor Campus. Despite growing up in a suburb of Sioux Falls, I was not too familiar with the Outdoor Campus before this summer. Spending just three months working here, I have learned more about the outdoors than in my entire life growing up.

 

Quite frankly, the extent of my outdoor education in my earlier years was camping with my older siblings and Dad (cooking s’mores and going fishing occasionally). Before my summer Internship here at The Outdoor Campus, it was my dad who introduced me to all things nature. He was the one that got my family and I excited about spending time outside, camping, and enjoying time with one another. My dad was really passionate about hunting too and he was excited for me to get older so he could take me out in the field. When I got to a comfortable age to start seriously participating in these endeavors, my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer and then sadly passed away about a year later. For a while, my love for the outdoors was put on pause, and I found new passions that filled my life (i.e. music and theater).

 

The day I received an email from Augustana letting me know about summer job opportunities, my friends were surprised by my strong interest in teaching this summer at The Outdoor Campus. But for me, I was looking forward to learning a new set of skills for myself, as well as gain real teaching experience; so I decided to apply. Lo and behold, I was interviewed and offered a job for the summer, teaching outdoor skills and conservation to a variety of ages.

Deciding to apply for this job is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my college career. My Outdoor Campus co-workers and I work together every day to carry out the mission here,

“To provide education about outdoor skills, wildlife, and conservation and management practices of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks to all ages in order to preserve our outdoor heritage.”

38752997_1872483933060231_2069778644414234624_nDancing because I love outdoor cooking!

I was one of those people who did not utilize my resources growing up to learn about wildlife and outdoor activities, so now, it is such an honor to provide an outdoor education to people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to do so, (before this summer, this included me).  I have a better understanding of how important it is to have an outdoor education and I have grown to have so much pride for South Dakota, a place I have called home for 20 years. I watch The Outdoor Campus live out its mission every day in my own life alongside all of those who learn and grow here too.

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Fixing fishing poles with my co-workers/ friends

dana blog post 4As you can see the Outdoor Campus has helped my grandma be more outdoorsy too 😉

This job has given me a community of co-workers and friends who support each other as we develop in our professional skills and as individuals. Thank you to all of those involved here at TOC, who help me and the students like me gain memories and important life skills. To my co-workers: You may not often be aware of what you do or perhaps you don’t think other people notice your support, but they do, and it is always appreciated.

Dana Blog post 1My wonderful TOC co-workers and I. 

A Rather Fishy Adventure: Our Trip to the Bassmaster Fishing Tournament

A Rather Fishy Adventure: Our Trip to the Bassmaster Fishing Tournament

By Emily Oyos

A few months ago, my fellow intern, Jessie, texted me wondering if I wanted to be her co-pilot on the drive to the Bassmaster Elite Fishing Tournament in Pierre.  Not really knowing what Bassmasters was, but always ready for an adventure, I quickly replied, “Yes!”  By late June, we had started preparing for our trip: cutting out hundreds of paper fish, buying craft supplies at Hobby Lobby, and of course purchasing snacks for the car ride.  Before we knew it, the time to leave had arrived, so we hopped in the Impala and started the over 200-mile drive to Pierre, South Dakota.  During the four days we were in Pierre, Jessie and I did an Instagram Story takeover of the TOC Instagram page that included numerous puns and jokes.  It was a “reely” great time! The following is a recap of our exciting trip; who knows, maybe a few of our Instagram stories will reappear.

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Day 1

Our trip started out as any great road trip should – with a Disney singalong!  From Tangled to The Lion King to Beauty and the Beast, we made sure to sing all the classics at the top of our lungs.  We may not been in “tuna,” and we may have “floundered” a few words, but we still had a “fintastic” time!

Anyone who has ever traveled across the great state of South Dakota knows that a stop at Al’s Oasis in Chamberlain is a must.  Even though we had just been there a few weeks ago on our way to the intern picnic, Jessie and I decided to stop again and climb the plastic bison out front.

35634724_10155466816072466_9143759518033772544_nWhat did the buffalo say to his son when he was leaving for college?  Bison!

 

A little over an hour later, we arrived in Pierre, made a mandatory stop at the Capitol building, and bought a Treatzza Pizza at Dairy Queen that would last us all three nights.  (In case you were wondering, it does work to cut an ice cream pizza with a pocket knife).  That night we played an exciting few rounds of the board game Life, drank lemonade, watched HGTV, and stared out the window as the tornado sirens went off around Fort Pierre.  We watched fearfully as the fishermen in the hotel parking lot covered up their boats before the storm hit.  Thankfully, the storm passed before any damage occurred.

Day 2 and Day 3

 

Saturday morning was the official start of The Great Outdoor Festival that South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks was holding at Steamboat Park in conjunction with the Bassmaster Tournament.  Jessie was in charge of the fish crafts, while I, along with two interns from TOC West and a State Parks intern from Pierre, were in charge of paddle boarding and kayaking.  I quickly put my TOC boating training to use, and taught people how to kayak and paddle board (even though I had never gone paddle boarding myself).

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Emily blog post 5Sarah, a TOC West intern, demonstrating her excellent paddle boarding skills.

 

Following the festival, Jessie, Sarah, Payton (the two interns from TOC West), and I headed over to the Bassmaster weigh-in where we watched the fishermen bring in their catches from the day.  For some, it went swimmingly, while others had a rather crappie day. Jessie and I would like to give a special shout out to Adrian Avena, the professional fisherman who was staying at our hotel, and who ended up getting 15th place out of 107 at the tournament!

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Saturday night, Jessie taught me a new card game, and we once again drank copious amounts of lemonade and watched more HGTV.

 

Sunday was very similar to Saturday, with a day full of crafting, boating (only a few rescues had to be made for children who drifted past the buoys), watching the weigh-in, and playing five rounds of Life in the hotel room.  If you ever want to win at Life, let me know.  Chances are you’ll probably win, as I lost all five games.  For supper, we stopped at Pizza Ranch because according to one little girl at Jessie’s craft station, “Pizza is always best after a long hard day.”  She was definitely right!

Emily blog post 7Adrian Avena at the weigh-in.

 

Day 4

After an exciting few days in Pierre, it was time to head home to Sioux Falls. With the Impala packed with leftover craft supplies and two tired interns, we began the journey home.  Prior to this trip, neither Jessie nor I had ever been to a professional fishing tournament, but we can now add that to the list of awesome experiences we have had as TOC interns!  Thank you to TOC for sending us to Pierre, and a special thank you to Jessie for being the best road trip partner out there!

As you can sea, I’m rather hooked on fish puns and I’ve bass-ically included all I cod think of, but if you get the opportuna-ty, let minnow of any other reely great ones.

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Growing to love ALL of South Dakota

Growing to love ALL of South Dakota

By Laramie Giles

South Dakota has always been and will always be home. South Dakota is a beautiful state with rolling plains in the east and black hills in the west. I was born right here in Sioux Falls, growing up in the city for most of my life. Now, as an adult, I split my time between both sides of the state. I spend a lot of time in Rapid City where I attend the School of Mines, but I also spend lots of time home in Sioux Falls for summer vacation and other holidays throughout the year.

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One thing I tend to hear a lot of people say is, “South Dakota is Sioux Falls and Rapid City with nothing in between”. Now, as someone living in both Sioux Falls and Rapid City, I have to disagree completely with this ‘boring’ conception about the middle chunk of our state.  I take this long drive across the state many times a year, and I can tell you it is NOT boring.

Driving East

 

The beginning of my drive from Sioux Falls to Rapid City starts out with a look at the big flowers, giant gold fish, and a huge bull head at the Porter Sculpture Park. After that, there is no better sight than when I-90 twists and turns to reveal the Missouri river at Chamberlain. Even after driving so many times I still get excited to drive over the bridge! And then I see her, Dignity, the most breathtaking sculpture along my drive.

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I love to watch a thunderstorm slowly draw closer as I head west, waiting for the rain to come down. And who can forget the innumerable Wall Drug billboards to count as you drive? But there’s so much more than just signs and storms to watch as I drive. I get to see all kinds of wildlife like deer, antelope and tons of cows with their playful calves.

10411236_279077532299011_7546818798183397343_nNDSUNorthDakotaDroughtAs I come closer to the end of my drive the beautiful badlands come into view and the edges of the Black Hills are in sight. For me those dark black hills covered in spruce (our state tree) mark my new home. This beautiful isolated mountain range offers limitless wildlife, hiking, camping, and trails to run on. Mount Rushmore, Keystone (with the best saltwater taffy shop), the Mickelson Trail, and Harney Peak are all less than 45 minutes from my dorm. How awesome is that?

DSC_3999Of course saying goodbye to Sioux Falls is never easy. Goodbye to friends and family, goodbye to the best running paths, and my thinking bridge in Dunham Park. So long to the Empire Mall, with around seven million visitors annually, where small me would throw pennies into the big fountain and beg mom for a pretzel. Goodbye to Gitchie Manitou and all the spooky feelings, goodbye to Falls Park with all its power and beauty, and the best Christmas lights in town. The hardest goodbye will now be The Outdoor Campus East; the best place for a summer internship.

32864640_1698679593581518_5164318498331033600_oI can’t believe how fast this summer is going, soon it will be time to pack up my car and hit the road west with my beta fish Solstice. I am already looking forward to coming home to Sioux Falls, at the same time getting really excited about moving to Rapid City for the next school year. I feel that I belong to both East River and West River of South Dakota; the best state to call home.

 

 

 

Finding the Spirit of Nature “on the Cheap”

Finding the Spirit of Nature “on the Cheap”

By Emma Lucchesi

Summer is usually filled with laughter, lake trips, boat rides, loads of sunscreen, town festivals and leisurely walks in the sunshine. With the age of social media on the rise,  we can’t ignore pictures and posts of all of these summer activities as well as the extravagant trips and adventures our friends are taking. Whether it’s a family vacation, honeymoon or a trip with a group of friends, vacationers’ pictures always cause me to think of two adjectives: “fun” yet “expensive.”

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Last year, my blog post focused on finding local places to explore. I ended my post with this advice,

            “There are always places to explore, you just might have to look a little harder.”

While true, many of us want to experience the awe of different landscapes. So how does one go about planning a trip without breaking the bank? Below are three pieces of advice that have helped me along my travels:

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  1. Be Open to Simple Adventures

Your high school friend Hilary posing in front of Buckingham Palace in her recent Instagram post doesn’t mean you should book a plane ticket to London. I’m guessing a spontaneous trip to England isn’t in your budget right now. Instead, look for neat national parks near you and take a road trip or hop on a cheap bus to a park in the region. I use the REI Co-op National Parks Guide app to plan my adventures. The app shows you parks in your vicinity. Summer is a time to know your limits in terms of time and budget, but still go on adventures!

 

  1. Airbnb is Your New Best Friend

Move over hotels.com, Airbnb is taking your spot! Airbnb is a great traveling tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. Airbnb.com is a website that allows travelers to find affordable, fun places to stay. Most Airbnbs are cheaper to stay at than hotels and are sometimes closer to your destination. Staying at an Airbnb can be an adventure in itself! Stay in a yurt or go glamping for a change. When looking at Airbnbs, be sure to check out the reviews and comments of past travelers who stayed there.

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  1. Be an Adventurous Penny Pincher

You can be adventurous while being budget conscious. Instead of making impulse buys throughout your trip, be smart and plan ahead. Buy that pack of gum before you get to the airport. Bring an empty water bottle through airport security so you can fill it up afterwards. See if your Airbnb has a kitchen, and if so, eat out one night and plan meals for the rest! Make a tentative itinerary with all of the activities available and their price ranges. While one should be a penny pincher, allow yourself to splurge on some fun activities as well. Just know that everything is a tradeoff. The kayak rental may be great, but you might have to give up snorkeling for it.

 

Every trip has opportunity costs whether it is your time, money, or sanity. Just know your limits, and plan a trip around your desires. This summer, I traveled to Zion National Park in Utah. All of the pictures on this blog post are activities and places I was able to see without breaking the bank. The three tips listed above allowed me to explore while staying under my budget. I hope they do the same for you!

Safe and Cheap Travels,

~Emma Lucchesi

 

The Ever Patient Fisherman: a Father’s Day Tribute

The Ever Patient Fisherman: a Father’s Day Tribute

By: Jessie Jensen

Growing up, I had the most excellent nature teacher; I called him, “The Ever Patient Fisherman,” a.k.a. my dad. Through years of lessons, my dad was there to equip me with all kinds of outdoor skills, which now translate into my everyday life. What is so cool about working at The Outdoor Campus, is that I have been given the opportunity to share these talents with the next generation of families. And to think it all started 22 years ago with me, as a kid, fishing with my dad.

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As father’s day approaches, I am even more aware of what I have learned from my dad. Busy fishing, canoeing, hiking and teaching this summer, I put together a photo gallery and appreciation letter for my dad this father’s day, to show him how his lessons (have and will) stick with me forever.

Dear Dad,

Thank you. For as long as I can remember, all of our free time has been spent together, in the great outdoors. I wouldn’t change that for the world. You were there for my first fish, my first deer, and everything after that. If I remember correctly, I was NOT the quietest child growing up. Even though fishing and hunting should be relatively silent activities, you always encouraged my creative stories and never complained about my constant conversation. One of my favorite memories growing up was catching fish, and then naming them. I would name almost every fish that came onto the boat! Remember, “Billy the Bass” or “Walter the Walleye”?  They always had lively conversations and you heard them all! Rather than getting frustrated or annoyed with me, you would just smile and keep on fishing.

 

You have always been encouraging and supportive of my outdoor endeavors, and I am forever grateful for you. As a dad teaching his daughter, you always made it clear that I could be just as successful in my fishing and hunting as any other person. You were so proud to raise me to be a strong outdoors woman. I want to be just like you when I grow up, and even now, I am starting to walk in your shoes.

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I recognize that not everyone growing up had someone like you to introduce them to the great outdoors; and it is really unfortunate. Working as a Naturalist at The Outdoor Campus, it has become my goal to help everyone develop a love for the outdoors; sharing what is deeply instilled in my heart because of you.

I am so grateful now that it is my job to be the “Patient Fisherman” for other families. And it’s all thanks to you dad, you have me “hooked” on the outdoors forever.

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you. Let’s go fishing.

– Jessie