Outdoor expo a great success

Junior division turkey calling contest winners are shown with Northwest Alabama RC&D personnel. From left are Lauranne James, Anna Morrison, Thaylen Stone (first place), Clark Nichols (second place), Haysten Williams (third place) and Vanessa King.

By P.J. Gossett
General manager
HAMILTON — Multiple agencies have come together and created the inaugural Marion County Outdoor Expo. Held on Friday, March 1, it brought in youngsters from multiple parts of the county to participate in events, such as turkey calling, and a motivational speech by former Hamilton resident and BASS professional angler Clay Dyer.
Inclement weather took the outdoor expo indoors at the Bevill auditorium on the Bevill State Community College campus. Several stations were occupied by Extension officials, Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams, the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Hamilton firefighters, Boy Scouts and many others.
The idea for the expo came from ACES SNAP-Ed REA for Marion and Walker counties Ginger Eatman.
“A couple of years ago, I was at a Northwest RC&D grant meeting held in Marion County with grant recipients,” Eatman said. “I talked a little bit about the projects that I had partnered with that had received grants and talked
about future possibilities.  I mentioned an ag expo, garden expo and outdoor expo. Eric Terrell (Marion County Emergency Management Agency director) told me after the meeting that if we ever did an outdoor expo, he would like to help with it.”
Eatman shared her ideas with Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Director Lauranne James.
“She loved them and was all on board on how to make them work as an outreach program for our county,” Eatman continued. “We were in the talks of the outdoor expo and using it as a kickoff to the Move Alabama campaign.  I presented the idea to Carla (Lewis, Marion County Extension coordinator).  Carla has been great about any idea we present to her. She jumps in with thought processes on how to make the most impact in the county and how to make it work.”
A planning committee was formed with James, Terrell, Hamilton Assistant Fire Chief Matt McCracken, Assistant County Engineer Lynn Mitchell, Joel Bartlett and SNAP-Ed Educator Josh Berryhill, who all helped in making the expo a success.
“This is something we would like to offer to our county each year,” Eatman added. “We will have a follow up meeting this month to set the date for next year and proceed with planning to make it grow.”
“The Marion County Outdoor Expo was a great event to encourage everyone to get out and be on the move more,” McCracken said. “I think the exhibitors at the expo gave many ways that the public could use to assist them in participating in being on the move more.”
Terrell added the event had a great turnout.
“This is something we plan to build off of. This was a very diverse group of exhibitors to encourage people to get outdoors and move more.  This will be a great opportunity for our community and county to get out, be involved in and move more!”

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