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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [MM]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Sept. 20, 2004

Texas Kids Headed to Parks and Wildlife Expo

AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of young people from cities across Texas will board buses for the 13th annual Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo here on Oct. 2-3.

"We are going to be able to help hundreds of deserving youngsters come to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo, kids who might not otherwise get the chance to learn about outdoor sports and recreation opportunities," said Peter M. Holt, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission member from San Antonio, who is also chairman of this year’s Expo advisory board.

"Although these buses are already full with organized groups, including inner city young people that we are particularly trying to reach, we encourage other groups to organize on their own and come join us at Expo. For that matter, anyone is welcome to hop in the car and join the caravan to Austin for this free event on Oct. 2–3, " he said.

At this year’s Expo, visitors of all ages will be able to try fishing, kayaking, shooting sports, rock climbing, mountain biking and more at no cost, with expert guidance and gear provided. The event runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, and more than 40,000 are expected to attend.

Houston and San Antonio are sending the most youth on the buses. Ten Houston buses holding 55 people each will leave the morning of Oct. 2 and return home that night. San Antonio will also send 10 buses. Other cities sending young Expo-goers include Abilene, Beaumont, Brownsville, Copperas Cove, Huntsville, Prairie View, and Terrell.

Though the Expo itself is free, transportation and insurance create financial obstacles for many potential out-of-town visitors, thus the need to bus in kids who otherwise might not be able to go.

Because of high demand in participating cities, the TPWD-funded buses are already at capacity. However, several groups, such as AVANCE and the Phoenix Outreach Centers, are looking into providing their own transportation to Austin.

And also, at least six Community Outdoor Outreach Program grantees will be heading to the Expo. About 300 people from these groups will attend. The CO-OP program awards funding to tax-exempt organizations who introduce their participants to outdoor recreation, environmental and conservation programs.

Groups sending youths include Abilene Independent School District, America’s Drug Free Production, Boys and Girls Scouts Clubs, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville Parks and Recreation, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southmost College, Turning POINT, Chatauqua Foundation, Houston Neighborhood Centers, Hester House, Christian Outdoor Coalition, Houston Independent School District, Buffalo Soldiers, Phoenix Outreach Centers, Barerra Group, and Houseman Group.

Dawn Bello, Urban Outreach Specialist emphasized that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its supporters are not always able to provide group transportation to Expo every year, but this year’s effort represents the event’s largest group transport program ever.

Major Expo sponsors this year include Anheuser-Busch, Toyota, Dow Chemical Company, La Invasora radio, Canon, HOLT CAT and Clear Channel radio in Austin. Other sponsors include Academy Sports and Outdoors, Mossy Oak Apparel Company, Winchester Ammunition, ChevronTexaco, Careco Multimedia, Inc., Sportsman’s Warehouse, Weyerhaeuser, Weatherby Foundation International, Boone & Crockett Club, Gary Grant Sales, Inc., Omni Austin Hotel-Southpark, Shikar Safari Club International Foundation, Arby’s of Central Texas, National Shooting Sports Foundation, CEMEX and Austin Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Out-of-towners looking for a place to stay during Expo can call the Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at (512) 478-0098 for hotel and motel information.

To make reservations at a Central Texas state park, call (512) 389-8900 or book online (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/admin/res/). For more information about Expo, including maps and directions, visit the Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/expo/) or call (800) 792-1112.

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