Conservation Clubs Make A Difference

The Quad Cities Conservation Alliance Outdoor Show is a unique event. For one thing, the Expo Center where it's held is owned by the combined conservation clubs that form the QCCA. It was designed as a lumber warehouse and covers 60,000 square feet of display area under a vaulted, wooden roof.

At the Show, kids can win participation in a group outing on Lake Michigan for salmon and trout. They can fish for trout at the show, too. And climb rock walls, take target practice with BB guns, learn archery, race minnows, and listed to some great, youth-oriented seminars.

And all the speakers at the event are invited to attend a breakfast banquet for area kids and answer their questions in a panel. Afterward, rods, tackle, DVDs, and fishing trips are raffled off. While sitting at breakfast with the kids, I had a young lady on my left, and a young lad on my right, sharing their fishing stories simultaneously. They had a lot of stories, and both quite obviously loved fishing with dad.

It often seems like the cards are stacked against the effort these days. Gas prices, insurance, finding volunteers who can find the time — it's a daunting proposition. So how do these groups do it? It's all about strength in numbers. The QCCA is made up of the Rock Island Conservation Club, the Frye Lake Sportsman Club, the Mississippi Valley Chapter of Muskies Inc., and Quad City In-Fisherman. Combined, with help provided by the Outdoor Show, and by renting the of the Expo Center to other groups and events, they  have the financial strength to make a difference and stack the odds in favor of the kids.

Young men and women of the Moline High School Bass Fishing Team spoke to the kids at breakfast this morning, reinforcing the excitement fishing can generate. How many high schools, I wonder, have bass fishing teams? Another great way to get kids to involve as much time in the real world as they do in the artifice of texting, video games, and social networking.

Watching kids win prizes is special, but hearing them glow about their fishing experiences was inspirational. Clearly, the QCCA is making a difference, and setting a great example. By combining efforts, conservation groups and volunteers can change the odds for city kids. It never hurts for kids to see, first hand, that life can be lived in appreciation of life.

The show goes on again tomorrow (Feb. 19). Great weather is bringing big crowds, and that's great news for all the kids of the Quad Cities.

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