Pheasants Forever’s Focus on Forever (FOF) and Leopold Education Project national conferences recently took place in tandem at Peninsula, Ohio’s, Cuyahogoa Valley Environmental Education Center. These national youth training events provided unique opportunities for networking and learning best practices for a variety of outdoor events and activities that engage youth and their families in outdoor traditions and foster the next generation of land stewards.

During the three-day event, awards were presented to the outstanding Volunteer of the Year and Chapter of the Year for youth efforts. Jim Davis of the Southeast Ohio Pheasants Forever chapter was presented with the Volunteer of the Year, while the Chapter of the Year award was presented to the members of the Wood-Lucas Pheasants Forever chapter.

Chapter of the Year – Wood-Lucas

The Wood-Lucas Pheasants Forever chapter in northwest Ohio held Pheasants Forever’s first youth mentored pheasant hunt in October of 1995, with 48 youngsters taking part. That program served as a blue print to build and advance our mentored hunting program around the country. Since that time, the chapter has invested well-over $300k into wildlife habitat projects, planted or enhanced over 10K acres of wetland and uplands and planted over 10K wind-breaking, mast producing trees and shrubs.

“We have had a special chapter, with a blend of varied individual talents that have worked well together over the last 20 plus years,” says Lou Best, Youth/Education Chairperson for Wood-Lucas Pheasants Forever chapter, “We’re hoping the next generation of Wood-Lucas Pheasants Forever leaders will develop the same type of chemistry that we have enjoyed.”

“When it comes to promoting land stewardship and telling the story of the ‘hunting conservationist’; Wood-Lucas is again an innovator and a leader,” says Rich Wissink, Pheasants Forever National Youth Programs Specialist, “I don’t think there is another chapter in the country that has done a better job combining traditional outdoor skills events with Aldo Leopold’s conservation message, and they truly embody the spirit of the No Child Left Indoors Initiative.”

Volunteer of the Year – Jim Davis

Jim Davis has served as the Southeast Ohio Pheasants Forever chapter Youth Education Chair since its start in 2002, and at times, also served simultaneously as the chapter’s president. During his tenure, he has grown the chapter’s annual youth event from 86 youth in 2002 to just under 900 youth this past spring. It is considered one of the highlights of the year for families in the surrounding communities.

“When it comes to the town of Baltimore, Ohio, and the Southeast Ohio Chapter – Jim Davis is the face of Pheasants Forever,” says Wissink, “The amazing part about Jim is that when you talk to him, you’d think it was everyone else on the chapter’s committee does all the work.  He is a master at passing the credit and taking the blame – a couple of characteristics of a great leader!”

Davis also leads the chapter in hosting five youth mentor hunts from October through February each year, and since returning from the 2011 FOF Conference, has started a youth led Pheasants Forever chapter that is currently being mentored by the adult chapter.

At the conference attendees had the opportunity to learn about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s New Forever Shooting Sports Program sponsored by Larry and Brenda Potterfield of MidwayUSA, how to become a more effective youth instructor, fundraising projects, and how to teach wingshooting and marksmanship to beginners.

For more information on Pheasants Forever’s youth education programs, please contact Rich Wissink at (715) 212-9724 or Email Rich. For all other inquiries, please contact Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever Public Relations Specialist, at (651) 209-4973 or Email Rehan.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Combined, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 130,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

Logo courtesy of Pheasants Forever

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