As a youngster, growing up in South Dakota, I was fortunate to have some adults that took the time, to share their love of the outdoors with me.
In Watertown, I did not have to go far too where there were pheasants, waterfowl, beavers, mink and other furry critters just blocks away from my home, helping to peak my interest in the outdoors.
I am deeply indebted to those who had the time to answer all of my silly questions and to allow me to drool over their outdoor gear.
In a nation that is highly urbanized, many of those people living in the cities are so far away from the rural areas, the outdoors that it is.
Many of the homes throughout the United States are single parent families, with the parent either too busy trying to earn a living to take their kids out or one who is not into the outdoors.
As a Nebraska Hunter Safety and Aquatic instructor, I am impressed with how many young boys and girls as well as adults attend these classes, eager to learn about the outdoors.
When I was a Weblos scout leader, we introduced our scouts to camping, fishing an even scuba diving and I would bet that those kids are still into the outdoors in numerous ways.
Unfortunately, not everyone attended these classes and there are kids out there who would love to get into the outdoors, but have no one to teach them, as neither their parents have spent much if any time in the outdoors.
This is where mentoring comes in and there are individuals in groups like Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation which have youth hunts, where members take kids out, teaching them the hunting basics and giving them the opportunity to bag their first bird.
Some people believe they have to be an expert before they can mentor or teach another about the outdoors, which is not true; anything you do to introduce someone new to the outdoors is the beginning of their outdoor experience.
You could take them hiking, fishing, camping, shooting archery, bird watching & identification or any of the other hundred things that would peak their interest in the outdoors.
The main thing is that you want to start them out slowly, do not overwhelm them on their first trip.
One of the easiest ways to begin when fishing, could be bluegill or bullhead fishing on a local pond, shooting a bow and arrow, camping in the backyard or simply doing a day hike where you bring along snacks and plenty of water.
I know there are both kids and adults that have interest in the outdoors, but have no one to take them out to open their eyes about all the great things the outdoors has to offer.
To me, when I can introduce others to the outdoors, it makes me appreciate and enjoy the outdoors even more, once we had children, I involved in the outdoors at a very early age.
Heather our oldest daughter enjoyed fishing and she was one of my models while shooting photos for Berkley-Pure Fishing. With her rod and reel in hand, a Berkley cap on her head, she posed for numerous photos while we were out fishing for bluegill.
She’s been too busy since she was married but still loves the outdoors, mostly boating, while her husband Sid, son Dylan enjoy fishing and hunting, Lindsey and Haley may do a little fishing, but more into swimming and boating like their Mom.
My son Paul and I spent time on the water together, both open water and Ice fishing, trapping, hunting turkey and pheasant. I am sure, there were many times he did not think it was such a good deal, as most of these activates meant that he had to get out of bed early and when he was in school that was not one of his main priorities.
Our middle daughter, Mieke liked to fish and spent a number of days on the ice and pond fishing with me, one of her favorite outdoor activity is fishing, especially paddlefish snagging, which she is passing along to my grandson Teddy.
Her husband Matt is both a hunter and angler, so they take the family fishing and hunt pheasants and turkeys with son Teddy.
Gina loved to fish with her sister Cassie and me, where they caught some nice bluegills from local ponds in the area. Gina’s husband Nathan is both an angler and a hunter, with Gina, Grandsons Bentley, Alan and little Titus spending time on the water and in the field as a family enjoying the outdoors.
When Cassie our youngest was little, she loved to fish, to pick up nightcrawlers and as a four and five year old caught some good bluegill and bass.
She was also the star on my Outdoorsmen Adventures show where we fished on a small pond, with that show winning both regional and a National Telly award.
Now that she is married and has daughters of her own, we do not get out like we used to, but when we do, she usually catches the biggest bass.
Any new person we bring into the outdoors, hunters and anglers become a huge part of the wildlife conservation, increasing our numbers and as these new to the outdoors start discovering different outdoor opportunities, not only will they become avid outdoorsmen and women, they will become a large part of our conservation movement.
These anglers and boaters will purchase equipment and pay an excise tax on rods, reels, fishing lures and other equipment.
The excise taxes then go out to the State and Federal agencies, and then directed to the Sport Fish Restoration program.
Hunters, as anglers are, also a large part of the wildlife conservation program with the excise tax they pay on their equipment, guns, etc. with these used for the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration.
Mentoring, does not take a whole lot of time, and is not all that complicated, it fits in with the old fishing line, the K.I.S.S. method or Keep it Simple Stupid.
Start small and once the individual becomes excited about the outdoors, then you can work with them, expanding their love of the outdoors.
You do not have to look very far to find for a child or adult who has been waiting for someone to offer to take them along and introduce them to the outdoors.
Once you get them involved in the outdoors, they will become a mentor, bringing more kids and adults into the outdoors.
Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster, inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, outdoorsmenadventures.com and like Gary Howey’s Facebook page or watch his shows on www.MyOutdoorTV.com.