SEATTLE - A coalition of hunting, fishing and conservation organizations joins with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to encourage fishers and hunters to help support youth outdoor education when they renew their annual recreational licenses this year.

Individuals can make a contribution of as little as a couple of dollars to help support youth outdoor recreation activities. Contributions may be made at the time hunting or fishing licenses are purchased or directly to the youth outdoor recreation program through the WDFW Web site listed at the end of this article.

License buyers' donations are passed on to the Washington Wildlife Coalition, a consortium of outdoor recreation groups that sponsor youth- focused outdoor recreation events throughout the state.

The youth events take place as part of the "Go Play Outside" program (GPO), aimed at bringing youngsters outside to learn how to fish, hunt, and enjoy nature. Created in 2002 by a unique partnership between the Washington Wildlife Federation and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the "Go Play Outside" program works with over 20 organizations in the Washington Wildlife Coalition to implement the youth projects. Over the past year, GPO funded eight outdoor events involving 14,500 youths.

"Our aim is to introduce kids to the fun and excitement of outdoor activities, and to see them share that excitement with their families," said John McLaughlin, Chairman of the Washington Wildlife Coalition. As fishers and hunters renew their annual recreational licenses, they are reminded to add a donation for youth.

"When hunters and anglers buy their licenses, cashiers are supposed to ask them if they would like to donate," said Ray Wilson, coordinator for the Go Play Outside program."Unfortunately, many cashiers who are pressed for time skip this question. GPO volunteers are hoping that customers will ask to make a donation themselves."

For information on youth events scheduled for 2005 please visit the Web site (www.wdfw.wa.gov/gpo/index.htm)

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