MDC offers free classes in May to help families head outdoors

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Families can head outdoors with confidence this summer by taking free classes in skills such as fishing, canoeing, and kayaking at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers a variety of nature programs for all ages at the center. In May, a focus will be on teaching outdoor skills.

Burr Oak Woods staff will offer Family Fishing programs in May. Space is limited and the first session on May 8 is full. But two separate Family Fishing sessions will be offered at from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 22. Waiting lists are available for any session that is full. To register, visit MDC’s Kansas City region events pages and scroll to May 22,

MDC staff will teach basic fishing skills about tackle, bait, and where to fish. Then equipment and worms for bait will be provided and participants will go fishing with help from instructors at a pond. This program is open to participants age 7 and older. Youths ages 7 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult. A fishing permit is not required for this class. Youths who attend these sessions will be entered in a drawing for a new fishing pole and tackle box at the end of summer.

COVID-19 safety protocols will be observed at all MDC educational classes.

A Little Acorns program that lets youngsters ages 3 to 5 experience cane pole fishing and connect with feisty bluegill at the W. Robert Aylward Educational Pond will be offered. The sessions are from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 20. The youths must be accompanied by an adult. To register, visit

MDC’s ongoing and free Discover Nature — Fishing classes are sometimes offered at Burr Oak’s Aylward pond. These classes are taught in four separate sessions. Participants get a comprehensive overview of fishing tackle, techniques, and fish ecology. A session starts with instruction and demonstrations, then participants go fishing at the pond. Sessions are for ages 7 and older, and youths 7 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Lesson 1 will be offered from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 13. To register, visit

Canoeing and kayaking will be featured skills with on-water training at the Aylward pond. These programs are open to families including children age 8 and older. Instructors will teach basic paddling strokes for canoe and kayak, how to safely enter and exit them, problem-tips, and how to plan a river float trip. Sessions will be offered from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15. To register, visit

MDC programs give participants the skills and confidence they need for success as they connect with nature in Missouri’s colorful outdoors.