Frank McGee includes a favorite quote in his slideshow presentations.
It's from Baba Dioum, who in 1968 spoke to the General Assembly of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
"In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."
Of course, most of McGee's presentations are before an audience of fellow Colorado Parks and Wildlife personnel and similarly minded conservationists. So it's nice for him to share that message with newbies, such as those who will stop by Prospect Lake for Saturday's Get Outdoors Day.
"We talked to a lot of folks last year who had never even heard of a stand-up paddleboard or shot a bow or caught a fish, like that wasn't even on their radar as something they could do," McGee said from Colorado Springs' Parks and Wildlife office. "They have a great time doing it, and we're hopeful they'll continue to do it."
Those are only a few of the to-dos at the third annual event, first envisioned by McGee at his former post in Grand Junction. The 11th Outdoor Heritage Day again brought together outdoor businesses and nonprofits to inspire the next generation of nature lovers. And that's also the goal at Prospect Lake, which wildlife officers will stock with rainbow trout Saturday morning.
They expect to hand out 1,000 fishing poles to kids, who can proceed to quick lessons from outfitters including Angler's Covey. Nonprofit UpaDowna and SUP Colorado Springs will greet with paddleboards, while Pikes Peak Outfitter will have kayaks to try.
Elsewhere, attendees can test their skills at an archery range on a rock-climbing wall, or they can hop on a bike. U.S. Air Force Academy cadets will be on hand with falcons, and the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo will bring more birds of prey to observe.
The local Rocky Mountain Field Institute will show off trail-building tools, while Leave No Trace will spread the word on ethical behavior in the woods.
"It doesn't matter to me if somebody decides to go camping at a state park or join the Boy Scouts or join 4-H or work with RMFI or be a common customer of Angler's Covey," McGee said. "If they're getting outdoors, then they're going to be more interested and passionate about natural resources. That's what I'm targeting."
Get Outdoors Day was intentionally organized around an area that advocates and city parks leaders say is underserved, with residents waiting to be connected to the outdoors. A $1.3 million grant that Great Outdoors Colorado awarded to the city last year is aimed at developing Memorial Park around Prospect Lake.
An estimated 5,000 people took part in last year's event. Becky Leinweber, executive director of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, served at the welcome booth.
"I had so many people say, 'Where do I pay?'" she said. "And it was so awesome to be able to say, 'This is all for you. All these businesses and exhibitors just want you to experience these outdoor activities.' They were like, 'Really?'"