JOPLIN, Mo. – A new organization in Joplin is looking to kickstart multiple conservation efforts to support legal awareness, cleanup and education.
Strangewoodz Outdoors owner Damon Johnson told The Heartlander he grew up in the vicinity but did not have many influences to teach him the way of the woods in his youth. As a teen, Johnson racked up a few tickets from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and has had a change of heart ever since.
Johnson held the first meeting for his new business at the Tipton Ford Fishing Access south of Joplin, and says the number of attendees was smaller than expected. Those who did show up for the event removed two and a half poly carts full of trash, and went on an exploration adventure after their cleanup effort.
The group travels outside of its area from time to time and has been in touch with the MDC to get tips about other areas that need cleaning up throughout the Show-Me State.
Johnson said he hopes to grow and get more people involved.
“The goal is, by the middle of the year into next year, that we would be able to have one of these going every month or every weekend in a different spot,” he said.
“It’s our responsibility, after all. We are the ones putting this trash out there. Even if it’s not specifically our trash, somebody has got to do it. Otherwise, that just adds up and we end up harming the wildlife and harming the ecosystem which, in turn, harms us. It goes full circle.”
Johnson says his business is open to expansion and hopes to see new chapters of Strangewoodz Outdoors across the state in the future.
Strangewoodz Outdoors also has been planning youth outings for this summer, and will soon add the dates to its website. Kids will be invited to participate in youth archery shoots, learning how to scout for live game and aspects of hunter safety.
“Through those outings, that gives me time to sit down and have a conversation with these kids and go in-depth about the law side of things. I’ve got a bunch of kids who have shown interest in going out and had conversations with them. They are like, ‘A license? What’s a license? I didn’t know you needed a license to hunt or fish.’”
To date, Strangewoodz Outdoors has scheduled two more trash cleanup efforts. The first will occur at Fort Crowder Conservation Area on Sunday, June 4. The second is planned for Capp’s Creek Aug. 6. Both cleanup sessions begin at 10:30 a.m.
For more information and to find out how to sign up to help, visit the group’s website, Facebook and Instagram pages.