Pocket park

MARQUETTE – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to help teach kids a multitude of outdoor skills during this year’s Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba.

The DNR’s Pocket Park, located on fair grounds, is a big part of the annual fair, offering avid hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts interested in lending a hand a chance share their skills with a new generation. Volunteers will join DNR staff during the state fair to help kids learn to fish, shoot a pellet gun or take aim with a bow and arrow.

“Volunteers are instrumental in providing this fun, outdoor recreation opportunity for thousands of kids and their families each year, and their dedication to this program is greatly appreciated,” said Janet Canode, education specialist with the DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division, in a written news release. “We hear from our volunteers and other customers how important it is to reach out to youth to instill an appreciation for Michigan’s great outdoors at a young age. I can’t think of a better way to do that than spending a few hours with kids, sharing your knowledge and helping them get started the right way.”

Pocket Park volunteer shifts are available during each day of the fair. All volunteers will receive a free lunch and commemorative T-shirt for their help.

Volunteers will need to pass a DNR background check before participating.

To sign up or learn more about volunteering with the DNR at the U.P. State Fair, contact Janet Canode at 517-284-6033 or canodej@michigan.gov. The deadline to sign up for a volunteer shift is Thursday, July 31.

The U.P State Fairgrounds are located at 2401 12th Ave. North, in Escanaba.

The fair is now governed by the Upper Peninsula State Fair Authority with representatives from all 15 U.P. counties and the Hannahville Indian Community. For more information about the fair, visit www.upstatefair.org.

The DNR Pocket Park, a one-acre site that features a pond, archery and pellet gun ranges, a fire tower, a waterfall, and about one dozen specialty gardens featuring native plants, caters especially to youngsters who are seeking an outdoor adventure in a natural resources setting. The Pocket Park’s pond is now stocked with bluegills for catch and release fishing, and both the archery and pellet gun ranges are also available for use by supervised groups.

It’s open from Memorial Day until Labor Day each year.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.