Wonders of Wildlife
New Home for National Hunting and Fishing Day
Since 1971, National Hunting and Fishing Day, founded and fostered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), has been called the most effective grassroots campaign ever undertaken to promote hunters, anglers and the conservation benefits they provide for all Americans who appreciate wildlife and wild places.
Wonders of Wildlife opened 30 years later, in 2001, and quickly emerged as an icon for the North American wildlife conservation model. In fact, it is the only hunting- and fishing-focused facility that’s an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
NSSF president Doug Painter, who serves on the Wonders of Wildlife board along with other directors from a wide range of outdoor interests, organizations and agencies, recognized the potential for uniting the annual commemoration with the world-class facility. In 2005, Painter told the press, “Wonders of Wildlife is an important leader in conservation education. It’s a place that makes sportsmen and women deservedly proud of their contributions to the great outdoors and overall quality of life that we enjoy in our country.”
Plans were made to give National Hunting and Fishing Day it’s first official home.
On Saturday, September 24, 2005, at a special celebration in Springfield, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt and other dignitaries welcomed National Hunting and Fishing Day to its new home at Wonders of Wildlife.
Addressing the attendees at the celebration, Wonders of Wildlife executive director Tony Schoonen said, “National Hunting and Fishing Day belongs here. Our plans start with a new museum exhibit to show off the colorful history of the celebration, but our real focus is on the future. We’re already developing new tools to communicate the value of hunting, fishing and conservation. We want more people to understand the connections, and ultimately we’d like to see more people-especially young people-participating.”
Painter said Wonders of Wildlife and National Hunting and Fishing Day share the goal of strengthening the image of hunting, shooting and fishing, “so it makes sense for them to work together. After all, that’s the kind of teamwork that helped make National Hunting and Fishing Day so effective in its early years.”