Published 9:55 am Monday, June 22, 2009

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP — Fourteen-year-old Kylie Thomas, of Ironton, has worked with youth in the annual Youth Empowerment Activities program for several years, but she had never worked with a bow and arrow until Friday morning.

Somehow, Dan Perko, education officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, made it look easy and by the time she got to shoot a few arrows, Thomas had decided archery was okay.

“I think its pretty cool,” she said. “I’m doing well. I think it’s because I’ve got pretty good aim.”

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And Thomas said she may be able to help someone else learn the basics of bows and arrows — which was the whole point.

The Ohio Department of Youth Services has given the South Hill Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation a $2,500 grant for an anti-substance abuse activity.

Partnering with the Family Guidance Center and the Lawrence County Juvenile Court, the grant was used to purchase bows and arrows for Friday’s event at Lake Vesuvius and similar ones in the future.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is increase the number of activities that support positive youth development,” said Joyce Lynd, chief probation officer.

WTF President Buddy Fry said the grant required the entities to include a strong anti-substance abuse message and offer some activity that is in keeping with a healthy lifestyle.

Archery was a natural choice for the activity.

“They will be able to learn life skills they can take with them, and they will learn that archery is safe and fun,” Perko said.

Friday’s participants were 15 and 16-year-old youth advisers from the Family Guidance Center and the Youth Empowerment Activities program.

After practicing on the standard round targets, participants were given the chance to use their new skills on Lake Vesuvius’ new archery trail.