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Dear Hunters and Trappers,

Welcoming more people to your love and enjoyment of the outdoors—and being intentional about it—is a subject I spoke about to a meeting of some of the DNR’s most engaged conservation partners in March 2019.

The setting was DNR’s first Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) Summit, at Fort Harrison State Park, when I was assistant director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife. I pointed out the need to invite new faces into the world of the outdoors, and share our passion for the activities we love with others. Much of the rationale was simply to get more people to care about and help with conservation efforts.

Almost exactly a year since that talk, the pandemic hit our country, changing how we work and recreate. Other events highlighted the need for many other changes. As we head into the latter half of 2020, more change is no doubt coming, but the importance of the message of inclusivity in terms of extending invitations to the outdoors has broadened and grown.

During spring and early summer, people flocked to DNR properties and bought fishing and hunting licenses at rates we haven’t seen in years, many for the first time. In addition, people engaged with the DNR on social media in numbers we’ve never seen before.

These trends present both an opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate what an important place the outdoors has been for us, many for a lifetime, and can be for anyone else just discovering the peace, solitude, and space to clear our minds nature provides. It’s a place that can bring together families, communities, and people of all different types, from all walks of life, to find commonality.

As we enjoy the outdoors, it can be easy to stay in our comfort zone and invite only those in our inner circles to take up activities like hunting and trapping. Instead, we need to move outside comfortable, and share, especially with people who may be different from us.

Each time you go afield, make a point to make everyone feel welcome in the outdoors and encourage them to dive deeper into the outdoors, not only because it will get more people caring about conservation, but also because of the overall sense of community it has the potential to create.

Amanda Wuestefeld

Director, DNR Fish & Wildlife