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DNR’s popular Outdoor Skills Academy expands statewide

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has expanded its popular Outdoor Skills Academy – which began at the DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac – to other locations around the state.

The Outdoor Skills Academy offers expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of outdoor activities, from hunting and fishing to hiking, birding and much more.

“Whether you need some help getting started with a new outdoor activity or want to brush up on your skills and learn some tips and tricks, we can help,” said Jon Spieles, DNR field manager for educational services. “Outdoor Skills Academy classes are unique in that they explore these topics in-depth – for a full day or more, with knowledgeable and skilled instructors leading the way – at an affordable cost.”

Participants will receive a certificate of completion for each class, with special recognition for those who complete multiple classes.

Both beginners and those with more experience are welcome. Most of the classes are designed for adults, youth ages 16 and older, and children over 10 who are accompanied by an adult.

Upcoming Outdoor Skills Academy classes in April include:

Turkey Hunting Clinic
Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (Mitchell State Park) in Cadillac
Saturday, April 1

Sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, this “A to Z” class on how to hunt wild turkeys will cover everything you need to know to get started, including how to find a location, scouting, calling and gear. The cost for this class is $25 and includes lunch and a 2016 turkey patch. For ages 16 and older (ages 10-15 with an accompanying adult).

Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic
Eddy Discovery Center (Waterloo Recreation Area) in Chelsea
Saturday, April 8

Spring turkey season is a favorite around Waterloo Recreation Area. Join DNR Conservation Officer Dan Prince for a broad look at the basics of hunter safety, shotgun patterning, tactics and calling. Prince also will cover decoys, blinds and other tricks of a successful hunt. Waterloo staff members will share insider intel on turkey habitat in the park, and help you map out a successful hunt. Cost is $20 and includes lunch. For ages 16 and older (ages 10-15 with an accompanying adult).

Fly Tying Workshop
Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling
Saturday, April 15

The Au Sable River runs through Hartwick Pines. What better place to learn how to tie your own flies? Spend the morning and afternoon with several local fly fishermen who have created their own flies that they use while fishing the Au Sable. Whether you’ve tied flies before or are a beginner, these instructors will teach you the best fly-tying techniques and which materials are best suited for landing those elusive trout. Cost is $25, which includes lunch and materials (vices, wire, feathers, hair, etc.). For ages 16 and older (ages 10-15 with an accompanying adult).

Plants of the Wooded Dunes
Gillette Visitor Center (P.J. Hoffmaster State Park) in Muskegon
Saturday, April 29

This class, taught by naturalist and nature photographer Craig Elston and DNR park naturalist Elizabeth Tillman, will cover basic plant identification, particularly as it relates to spring wildflowers of the wooded sand dune, and information on dune systems. Participants will learn to identify key plant features using photo examples and will take short hikes to various park locations to see and identify flowering plants. Cost is $50 and includes a field guide and other identification materials, light breakfast refreshments, and lunch. For ages 16 and older.

Outdoor Skills Academy classes scheduled beyond April include:

Open Water Walleye Clinic – May 7 at Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (Mitchell State Park) in Cadillac
Saginaw Bay Walleye Clinic – May 9-10 at Saginaw Bay Visitor Center (Bay City State Recreation Area) in Bay City
Beginners’ Bass Fishing Clinic – May 13 at Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (Mitchell State Park) in Cadillac
Fly Fishing and Tying Basics Workshop – May 13 at Eddy Discovery Center (Waterloo Recreation Area) in Chelsea
Fly Fishing Clinic – May 20 at Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (Mitchell State Park) in Cadillac
Fly Fishing Clinic – June 10 at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise
Fly Fishing Clinic – June 17 at Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (Mitchell State Park) in Cadillac
Plants of the Open Dunes – June 30 at Gillette Visitor Center (P.J. Hoffmaster State Park) in Muskegon
Dutch Oven Campfire Cooking – July 1 at Saginaw Bay Visitor Center (Bay City State Recreation Area) in Bay City
Bear Hunting Clinic – July 29, Aug. 5 and Aug. 6 at Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (Mitchell State Park) in Cadillac
Archery Clinic – Sept. 16 at Ludington State Park in Ludington
Managing Your Forestland – Sept. 16 at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling
Adventure: Navigation in the Wilderness – Oct. 14-15 at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon
Hiking 101 – Nov. 4 at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon
Snowshoe Building Clinic – Dec. 9-10 and Jan. 13-14 at Ludington State Park in Ludington
Snowshoe Building Clinic – Dec. 16 at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise

For more information and to register for Outdoor Skills Academy classes, visit michigan.gov/outdoorskills.