In 2008, Beau Turner created the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center (BTYCC) in north Florida for young people to have a place to go and discover and enjoy the outdoors. The center hosts several programs throughout the year that allow kids to learn about northern Florida, wildlife management and renewable energy sources.
They are given opportunities to develop their outdoor skills and much more. Attendees can participate in a wide range of activities, including fishing, shooting, hiking, hunting, etc.
“I wanted kids, including my son, to have the chance to get outdoors and connect with nature,” said Beau, “It’s important that they learn about our resources and everything being outdoors has to offer.”
The BTYCC is the only one of its kind to be powered almost completely by solar panels. The panels can be found throughout the property, from rooftops to fence posts, where they create energy to power everything the center has to offer.
“This place is special to me, but I wish there were more of them across the nation. Every state should have a facility like this,” said Beau. “There is no reason it cannot be done.”
On April 30, the ninth annual Outdoor Experience was held at the BYTCC. The event was free to the public and open to all ages. Youth were able to experience multiple outdoor activities. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission had a live alligator exhibit, while expert volunteers helped young kids shoot a gun of their choice and catch a fish for the first time.
“There’s nothing else like catching a fish for the first time,” said Beau. “I’m thankful I get to be a part of such a huge event.”
Beau has also created a Mentored Youth Program. In this program, five or six youth are chosen by mentors who work at BTYCC. They spend an entire year learning everything there is to know about the outdoors.
During the time, the mentored youth will spend every weekend and any free time they may have with their mentor at the center. They learn how to scout fields, plant food plots, hang deer stands, bait their own hooks, how to properly handle guns and much more.
“It’s awesome to see how being active in the outdoors can change someone’s life, even at a young age,” said Stuart Richardson, of Tallahassee, Fla., who serves as one of the mentors. “Our kids spend so much time out here during their year of being mentored, it’s unbelievable, and they always have a smile on their face.”
All mentored youth are given a new shotgun and rifle upon arrival, which they get to use on their guided hunts during deer and turkey seasons. At the end of their year, the mentored youth will be presented with a mount of their kill from the hunting season.
“I just really want this opportunity for all kids,” said Beau. “I hope to spread the message about how this experience positively effects our younger generation.”
The BTYCC is located in Lamont, Fla. For more information, visit www.btycc.org.