SOUTH DAKOTA—At the end of April, Black Hills National Forest employees connected with nearly 800 youth at an annual Youth and Family Services Kids’ Fair in Rapid City, South Dakota. The kids’ fair provides children with a safe place to be active and engage in fun, hands-on activities while spending time with their families. The Black Hills National Forest leveraged this existing event to connect with children and their families through hand-on recreation and natural resources activities.
The booth was decorated with a ponderosa pine tree and a cave for kids to crawl through and it housed a real bat. Employees gave families information about the important roles bats play in our world. From toddler to preteens, those who visited the booth were able to pick out their own pinecone for a kit that provided instructions to craft a pinecone bat as well as more bat facts.
Visitors also learned about recreational activities they can do on national forests and grasslands, such as camping, hiking, and fishing. Kids were given the opportunity to write down their name and favorite activity in the national forest on a leaf cutout and place it on a tree. Answers ranged from enjoying dancing, to hiking, and to shed hunting in the forest. At the end of the event the tree was completely full.
The event was a great opportunity for Forest Service employees to engage youth in learning more about recreational activities, natural resources, and the principles of shared stewardship. This event was made possible through partnership with the Black Hills Parks and Forests Association.