July 7, 2021
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offers hundreds of workshops and events throughout the year to help people get out and enjoy the outdoors to its fullest, and thanks to a newly redesigned calendar and event management system, finding one is as simple as scrolling through your phone or computer screen.
The AGFC has 10 nature centers and education centers spread throughout the state as well as a fully staffed shooting range in central Arkansas. Dozens of additional staff offer workshops in everything from swamp walks for turtle-watching to in-depth classes to teach landowners how to improve wildlife habitat and protect streams on their property as well. The agency even offers professional development courses for teachers to pass on the outdoors in disciplines ranging from science and mathematics to art and literature. The Outdoor Skills Network calendar helps make choosing from the myriad opportunities easier.
A calendar of events is nothing new for the AGFC’s website, but this latest version includes some features to make it much easier for people interested in the outdoors to stay on top of what’s available from the agency.
“All of our events were advertised before, but they may have appeared on a Facebook post, a flyer, in an email to previous workshop attendees or on a nature center’s individual web page,” Hollie Sanders, the AGFC Assistant Chief of Education who has led the effort to coordinate the events, said. “We will still continue to advertise in those ways, but we’re adding this one-stop shop. It will include all our events, no matter if it’s being done by a nature center or one of the many people from the agency's Wildlife Management, Fisheries or Enforcement divisions who also host workshops or special events.”
Events appear in chronological order with the workshops occurring soonest placed at the front. They also can be filtered so the ones being held nearest your location appear first. Finally, you can choose specific event types from beginner workshops to advanced or choose professional development or landowner workshops to fine tune the application to suit your needs.
Some events, such as animal feedings at nature centers, may be open with no registration required, but others like hummingbird banding workshops or organized hunting and kayak trips may have limits on attendance. Registering for these events is as simple as clicking a button and entering your contact information.
“You’ll receive an email confirming your participation in the event,”Sanders said. “The event coordinator also can send more details about the event to participants, like what sort of clothes to wear, whether they should prepare to bring a lunch, and what experiences they may have in addition to what’s provided in the main event description.”
Sanders says participants also may be asked to fill out a quick survey about themselves before attending.
“The more we know about the audience, the more we can tailor the experience to match,” Sanders said. “It also gives us insight on how to better serve people and what they’re wanting from their outdoor experiences in the future.”
Even if an event has filled to capacity, Sanders encourages people to sign up for its wait list.
“That’s another new feature,” Sanders said. “If someone cancels, the calendar will automatically contact the next person in the waiting list to let them know a seat is available. After 24 hours, if it doesn’t receive a response it will send the opportunity to the next person in line until the event is fully booked. If we see that an event has a large wait list, we also know that we should schedule another like it, and we already have a group of people to send an email invitation to get registrations started.”
Much of the calendar’s structure is based on the popular Outdoor Skills Program developed in 2019 by the AGFC’s Education Division.
“The events are organized by skill level from beginner to expert,” Sanders said. “And we can help people track their progress through many outdoor skills disciplines and let them know about upcoming opportunities to develop as an outdoors enthusiast.”
Visit www.agfc.com/events to visit the Outdoor Skills network Calendar and find your outside today