Springfield, Illinois- The first annual Quail Forever (QF) No Child Left Indoors™ National Award was recently presented to the Illinois Pioneer Chapter of QF at the 2008 Illinois Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever State Convention in Springfield. The distinction honors the QF chapter that has excelled at engaging the next generation of conservationists and land stewards during the last year.
The Illinois Pioneer Chapter, which is based in Macoupin County, began organizing educational youth shoots and safety meetings that eventually led to the formation of the Quail Forever/Boy Scouts Encampment. Allowing 587 Scouts to earn a special QF badge, the encampment – the largest youth event ever held by an Illinois QF chapter – gave an opportunity for youth to learn about hunter’s safety, conservation and also how to safely shoot shotguns, long rifles and archery. “Most quail hunters are older now-a-days and there is a need as well as an advantage to starting young,” said Ron Hamp, Illinois Pioneer chapter president. Hamp hopes his chapter’s success will act as a catalyst in promoting future youth-focused activity in QF chapters across the nation.
Created to increase youth participation and interest in the outdoors, the No Child Left Indoors™ initiative looks to extricate today’s youth from an overwhelming presence of electronics while engaging them in outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and camping. “It’s imperative that we reconnect youth to the outdoors,” said Cheryl Riley, QF’s Vice President of Education and Outreach, “If we don’t engage youth in the outdoors, then they don’t understand nature and won’t care about it. And if they don’t care about wildlife and wild places, they won’t care about conserving them.”
The No Child Left Indoors™ initiative builds on QF’s popular Leopold Education Project and chapter youth events with a menu of expanded youth and family programs that are designed with QF chapters in mind. The No Child Left Indoors™ initiative is carried out through youth habitat projects, youth and family community events and youth outdoor education programs hosted by chapters and volunteers across the country.
Through the act of enlightening almost 600 youths to the pleasures and importance of the outdoors, the Illinois Pioneer chapter showed why they deserved this national recognition. “Because Quail Forever is a fairly new organization, chapters are still gearing up to do a lot of events,” said Riley, “But this Illinois Pioneer Chapter jumped right in and planned an event with the Boy Scouts of America.”
“We were pretty enthused about this award,” Hamp added, “This shows people that if you put in the work it pays off, both now and in the future.”
Pheasants Forever launched Quail Forever in August of 2005 to address the continuing loss of habitat suitable for quail and the subsequent quail population decline. QF chapters promote local, state, and federal conservation programs that help landowners protect environmentally sensitive acres for quail and other wildlife. They also employ the organization’s unique model of empowering local chapters with 100 percent control of the chapters’ locally-raised funds to complete habitat and youth education projects in the chapters’ own communities.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 127,000 members in 700 local chapters across the continent.