MDC offers outdoor skills events geared for special needs

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Connections with nature enhance life for all, including people with special needs. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers programs to help those with special needs and their caregivers enjoy the outdoors.

MDC will offer an outdoor skills special needs event 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs. The program is reserved for outdoor enthusiasts young or young at heart who may have special physical or mental needs, and their guardians or caregivers. Participants in the morning will try fishing in the Burr Oak Woods pond and target shoot with air rifles. MDC staff and volunteers assist participants with all activities.

A campfire lunch will be provided. In the afternoon, participants will get a chance to go canoeing at the pond.

“This is about getting people outdoors and giving them the same opportunities that everyone else has to enjoy nature,” said Lisa LaCombe, Burr Oak Woods manager. “We get cool comments from people, such as ‘this is the first time I’ve gotten to fish in 15 years.’ “

LaCombe is also the latest organizer for a decades-old No Boundaries fishing program. This year it will be held June 11 at the Longview Lake Marina. The event coincides with Missouri’s free fishing weekend. MDC staff and volunteers assist the anglers and their caregivers with the fishing.

“Even the smallest sunfish they catch brings great delight,” LaCombe said.

MDC staff and conservation partners also recently held an 8th Annual Outdoors Without Limits event at Hazel Hill Lake north of Warrensburg in Johnson County. The joy people get from connecting with the outdoors is rewarding to those who help them.

“Our staff partners with people on things like canoeing,” LaCombe said. “We get into the canoe and paddle with them and make sure they have a good experience. Many times they will progress and follow up by paddling a kayak on their own.”

Registration is required for the programs and can be made by calling LaCombe at 816-655-6263, ext. 1332, or email at

MDC provides fishing docs, boat ramps and restrooms at many conservation areas that are accessible for people with special needs. For more information, visit