Missouri Naturalists Creatively Teach Outdoor Survival Skills

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) made sure participants walked away from a special, Halloween-related outdoor event feeling confident in their chances of surviving in the wild.

Participants at MDC’s Survival Skills 101: Zombies course learned a lot out Missouri’s great outdoors and how to survive in the event of, you guessed it, a zombie apocalypse.

IMG_1766compIf navigating unknown territory at August A. Busch Conservation Area wasn’t terrifying enough, the possibility of zombies storming participants’ stations surely did the trick. The added twist simulated how dangerous conditions can be outdoors and gave individuals the chance to think on their feet and apply techniques taught by the MDC staff.

Participants received a survival backpack with important items, including first-aid kits, sleeping bags, can openers and fishing poles. They journeyed to different stations where MDC staff taught them how to make tents, start fires, take care of small injuries and purify water, among other important survival skills.

“We thought we probably could have a zombie program if we made it educational and relevant to survival skills in general, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Lia Bartnicki, MDC staff member and “apocalypse” coordinator.  “We’re really just trying to get a new crowd of folks out here to experience our area.”

Not only did MDC attract a new crowd, it gave frequent visitors a reason to come back for more.

“We do a lot of field trips here, and we thought how cool would it be to survive a zombie apocalypse,” said Emily West, a program participant.

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Participants learn many survival skills, including how to start a fire.

MDC’s mission is: “To protect and manage the forest, fish and wildlife resources of the state and to facilitate and provide opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy and learn about these resources.”

With a little help from the Zombie Squad and St. Louis Sci-Fi Club, this mission was accomplished. With any luck, MDC will host a similar event next Halloween!

Visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website to learn more and stay updated on upcoming events.

 Written by Jamie Crockett, communications intern for the Missouri Division of Tourism.

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