Quail Forever’s Thurman Tucker as Minn. Volunteer of the Year
Minnesota Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) recognized chapters and individuals from across the state for their wildlife habitat conservation efforts. These awards were given at Minnesota Pheasants Forever’s State Habitat Meeting, which was held in conjunction with National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic 2013.
Thurman Tucker of the Southeast Minnesota Bobwhite Quail Forever and Metro Quail Forever chapters was named the Minnesota Volunteer of the Year at the organization’s Minnesota State Habitat Meeting.
Tucker has started two Quail Forever Chapters in Minnesota, hosts annual Bobwhite Field Days, and organizes field trips, educational sessions, and field work excursions for different schools in southeast Minnesota and Minneapolis. He has built relationships that promote good land stewardship and a strong bond with the native quail of southeast Minnesota.
“Thurman has a passion for habitat and recognizes the importance of being an active participant in seeing habitat programs hit the ground,” reported Chad Bloom, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever regional representative in southern Minnesota. “Thurman is a big picture thinker who has been willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the habitat mission of Quail Forever, and we are all indebted to him for his leadership and willingness to lead the habitat charge.”
Pheasants Forever recognized Brett Oberg of Hutchinson as the organization’s Minnesota Professional of the Year. Oberg, a conservation officer for the Minnesota Department Natural Resources, embodied this award by demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to the protection of wildlife, habitat, and hunting heritage in Minnesota.
Oberg is very involved in fostering the next generation of conservationists, regularly helping with firearms safety courses and youth conservation events where he teaches hunter ethics. A big part of Oberg’s job involves the Wetland Conservation Act and illegal drainage of wetlands, a critical link in the habitat complex for wildlife in Minnesota, so he understands the need for proper landscape management. “In a changing landscape where our wildlife habitat is facing unprecedented pressures, Brett Oberg is a consummate professional and a true voice for wildlife habitat in Minnesota,” said Chad Bloom, Pheasants Forever regional representative in southern Minnesota.
Protecting the environment and serving the public for the last 14 years has been very rewarding for Conservation Officer Oberg. “I am honored to be recognized for this prestigious award,” said Oberg. “I feel proud to get to work with the conservation community making Minnesota a better place to live, work and recreate.”
Oberg is a native of White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Pheasants Forever recognized Kevin Lines, retired conservation easement manager for the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) with the Bill Sandy- Making A Difference Award. This award is presented annually to the person who demonstrates uncommon achievements for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.
Among his long list of accomplishments, Lines worked to designate 14 wildlife lakes, protect 100,000 acres through the Minnesota River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and helped to grow RIM easements in the state from 65,000 acres to 250,000 acres during his career. “Since his career began, Kevin Lines has been tirelessly working for the pheasants and other wildlife of Minnesota,” said Joe Duggan, vice president of corporate relations for PF. “Sportsmen and women, as well as the citizenry of Minnesota, are indebted to Lines for his dedication and service.”
“I am very humbled by this recognition,” Lines said. “It really goes to my peers at the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Pheasants Forever who work with me one project at a time to make Minnesota a better place for wildlife.”
The late Bill Sandy embodied the Pheasants Forever volunteer spirit. Twenty-two years on the Mille Lacs/Benton PF chapter committee, Sandy was the model of a local PF volunteer and grassroots conservationist.
Lines is a Milaca, Minnesota native.
Chapters Honored for Historical Habitat Expenditures
Four Minnesota PF chapters have been recognized for historical wildlife habitat expenditures over a million dollars. These include Clay County, Lac Qui Parle County, Steven’s County, and Pelican River chapters.
The Clay, Lac Qui Parle and Stevens County chapters of Pheasants Forever have each spent over $1 million on wildlife habitat and conservation education projects. That has translated into 2,063 habitat projects benefiting wildlife on over 18,000 acres in the three counties.
Public land acquisition has been a high priority for these chapters, having participated in 13 acquisitions totaling 1,774 acres. These acquisitions are open to public hunting as Minnesota DNR Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). They have cumulatively planted over 139,000 trees in 180 wintering areas and created over 9,000 acres of associated food plots.
The chapters have also taken an active in role in management of public WMAs and WPA’s having restored or enhanced almost 6,000 acres cumulatively. In addition to habitat projects, the chapters also help foster the next generation and have created various youth education opportunities to impact over 700 youth.
The Pelican River Chapter of PF has spent over $2 million on wildlife habitat and conservation education projects. Since its inception in 2001, the Pelican Chapter has not only donated over $15,000 to Pheasants Forever Legislative Action Fund to support efforts to improve strong conservation programs within the next Federal Farm Bill, but also contributed to a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist position in Otter Tail & Clay Counties. This biologist’s role is to assist landowners in designing, developing, and funding habitat improvements on private lands.
The chapter has worked to improve 435 acres of nesting habitat, food plots, and winter cover. Public land acquisition has also been a high priority for this chapter, having participated in eight acquisitions totaling 1,364 acres. These acquisitions are open to public hunting as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs).
In addition to habitat improvements; the chapter plays a key role in youth education, holding an annual Youth Mentor Hunt and also sponsoring Hunter’s Safety Education classes.
Additional Minnesota awards presented this year included:
- Brood Booster Award for significant habitat gains through the delivery of federal farm programs – Lincoln County Soil & Water District.
- Most Improved Banquet – Clay County PF Chapter
- Best Banquet – NW Suburban PF Chapter
- Youth Chapter of the Year – Mississippi Long Tails PF Chapter
Historically, Pheasants Forever – which formed in Saint Paul in 1982 – has raised more than $58 million for Minnesota’s wildlife habitat efforts. Those dollars have translated into over 25,000 total habitat projects which have benefited over 250,000 acres in the state. PF has 77 chapters and over 25,000 members in Minnesota. For more information, visit the Minnesota Pheasants Forever website.
Images courtesy Pheasants Forever