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Illinois hunting and fishing

About 200 children per day participate in fishing clinics in Conservation World during the fair’s 10-day run. Photos by Chris Young.

Conservation World draws kids and families

August 18, 2011 at 09:14 AM

The State Journal-Register


Rick Schlemm has been coming to Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair ever since his parents brought him as a child.

Tuesday, he was touring the 30-acre park on the northwest corner of the fairgrounds with children from the Kountry Kids Learning Center in New Berlin.

“I always came out to Conservation World when I was a kid,” he said. “I think this is a really cool place to learn about the natural history of Illinois.”

Schlemm and his group had just disembarked from the Voyageur Canoe, a replica of the canoes used by early French explorers who navigated the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Unlike those early explorers who paddled for months, fairgoers made just two laps around the pond.

“As far as the selection of trees and the plants here, it’s all thought out,” Schlemm said. “Everything down to the Voyageur Canoe ties into the history of Illinois.

“It’s a great learning tool and a safe environment to bring children.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Operated by IDNR

Conservation World is home to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources during the 10-day run of the fair, which continues through Sunday.

The entrance is tucked into a corner of the fairgrounds between the Junior Livestock Building and the Director’s Lawn, just inside Gate 7.

Visitors take a winding paved path through a park-like setting, stopping to touch a fish, learn about how electricity is generated or walk through a vendor’s tent. There is a climbing wall for kids, BB gun range, archery range, fish tanks and many other activities and displays.

Resources for teachers are available, as are guides to hunting and fishing regulations for outdoorsmen and women.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Popular attraction

Just inside the main entrance, kids have the opportunity to touch a small fish, a turtle and a large crayfish — with pincers removed. The goal of the display is to introduce children to outdoors experiences they may not have had yet.

It is so popular that 3,500 people stopped to pet fish last Sunday.

Also inside the main entrance are kids fishing clinics, where children can learn how to catch fish in a well-stocked pond. About 200 kids each day take part in the fishing clinics.

“Things are going really, really well at the fair this year,” said Herb Dreier, who coordinates DNR’s urban fishing program. “The weather is terrific, the attendance is great, and the fish are biting.”

Dreier spends every day of the fair in Conservation World.

“This is where I live during the fair — all day long for 10 days,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy doing this. It does wear you down a bit, but Conservation World offers opportunities for people with a lot of different interests.”

***

Conservation World

* Conservation World hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

* Kids fishing clinics are held five times each day. Bait and tackle are provided. Clinics are scheduled for 11 a.m., noon, 1:30, 3 and 4:30 p.m. each day of the fair.

 

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