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Panhandle Passages with Justin Haag — It’s a Dream Event

Students with carp
Northfield Elementary School students Zac Wilson, Tanner Rust and Mia Murrillo show off a mirror carp that was part of the "Fish, Turtles and Aquatic Organisms" station. Students, to their delight, were given the opportunity to catch the fish by hand from a tank.

It’s been a day or two, so I certainly don’t remember everything about elementary school. However, one thing I remember, much to my teachers’ chagrin, is that it involved a lot of daydreaming. What about? This time of year, the thoughts surely focused on getting out of the classroom to do some fishing and camping.

Of course, those activities usually took a back seat until school dismissed for summer, so forgive me if I harbored some feelings of jealousy as kids were filing out of school buses to attend the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Outdoor Discovery Program at the Scottsbluff Trails West YMCA Camp last week.

The lucky little devils got to spend a day away from the classroom to learn about activities such as fishing, archery, shooting, kayaking and climbing. Despite the obvious fun-factor involved in such an event, many of the students were introduced to activities that will provide enjoyment for the remainder of their lives.

It was my first time attending an Outdoor Discovery Program event, so I probably had about as much fun as the kids did. Each station of activity was thoroughly informative and entertaining. The highlight? It had to have been watching children circle around a big tub and scream in delight as they tried to catch a variety of fish, including a big ol’ carp, by hand. Words will not do it justice, so click here for a short low quality video clip from my cell phone. (You might want to turn down the speakers and ease into it.)

And, here’s more photos from last week, as well as other past Outdoor Discovery Program events.

If you feel like you’ve missed out on some fun, don’t just daydream about it. After two more days of hosting school children at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area this week, the Outdoor Discovery Program will open to the public Saturday, May 11. More information about the Outdoor Discovery Program can be found at this link.

Don’t miss it. It’s sure to keep the children entertained, and may just have the adults feeling like kids again.

Justin Haag of Chadron is a public information officer for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and regional editor for NEBRASKAland magazine. He can be reached at justin.haag@nebraska.gov or 308-430-8515.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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