MYRTLE CREEK — The 25th annual tradition of Myrtle Creek fourth graders attending the Seven Feathers Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show was altered this year.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the live show held annually at the Douglas County Fairgrounds was not a possibility this year. But Joe Pate, show producer, put together a team that designed and created a virtual outdoor show.

On Friday, in their classroom, the 10-year-old fourth graders visited the virtual show on their desk computers. The show is free online through Feb. 25.

“It’s always been an educational experience for the kids,” said Dianna Wilkerson, one of the two fourth grade teachers at Myrtle Creek Elementary School. The other teacher is Brianna Reay.

“It’s been a big deal for the fourth graders to make that trip to the show,” Wilkerson added. “We’re super happy to carry on the tradition.”

As Wilkerson led her students through the process of bringing the show up on their computers, she explained to the kids that as they looked at the pages featuring boats, trailers and RVs, outdoor guides and lodges, they might see something that would interest them for future employment. She also noted that people in those industries have worked hard to achieve success.

Student Kendall McAnn said she looked at the boat, RV, fishing and kids archery pages of the virtual show. She has gone fishing with her parents in the past so was attracted to the pages that focused on that activity.

The tradition of the students visiting the show was started 25 years ago when Claudia Vangstad was a counselor at Myrtle Creek Elementary. She thought it would be a nice educational alternative for the students and a good break from the classroom. She and Pate worked together to make the field trip happen and it has continued through the years, under the supervision of Vangstad, then teacher Connie Clack and now Wilkerson.

“If the fourth graders can call up the show on their computers, anybody can,” Wilkerson said. “We’ve had adults who went to the show as students come back to us and tell us about the good things they saw and still remember.

To complete their outdoor show experience, the students will be given the assignment of writing about something they saw that interests them.

In past years, many of those articles were about the bears, birds and wild cats that the students saw on stage. This year, the virtual show featured a grizzly bear presentation.

“We’ve just tried to reinvent the sportsmen’s show for the students and continue to make it an educational experience for them,” Wilkerson said.

A free encore presentation of the Seven Feathers Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show with all of the exhibitors featured is scheduled for March 12-31.

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