Saint Paul, Minn. – Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have honored three local chapters for their efforts to introduce youth to the outdoors and create the next generation of hunters and conservationists. Recipients of the third annual No Child Left Indoors® National Awards include the Mahaska County (Iowa) Pheasants Forever chapter, the Illinois Pioneer Pheasants Forever chapter and the Great River Area (Illinois/Iowa) Quail Forever chapter.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s No Child Left Indoors® initiative is the organization’s national effort to engage youngsters in outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and camping. The No Child Left Indoors® National Awards recognize chapters for their youth habitat projects, youth and family community events and youth outdoor education programs. “These chapters have shown the ultimate commitment to promoting youth activities and getting kids involved in the outdoors,” said Cheryl Riley, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Vice President of Education and Outreach.
Mahaska County Pheasants Forever Chapter
Each spring, the Mahaska County Pheasants Forever chapter sponsors an outdoor day that includes every 5th grade student in the county, 350-plus students. In the fall, the chapter hosts a field day which over 200 youth attend and everyone goes home with a Pheasants Forever Ringnecks (youth) membership. The chapter also sponsors an Iowa Youth Hunter Education Challenge Team as well as a scholastic shooting team that had 60 participants this past year. Last year, chapter expenditures on youth programs topped $16,000.
The Mahaska County Pheasants Forever chapter’s youth coordinator is Mahaska High School student Brooks VanDerBeek. Brooks’ dad, Jeff, is president of the chapter. Brooks serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Youth Leadership Council and recently helped form the first-ever high school student Pheasants Forever chapter in the country, the Oskaloosa Pioneering Ringnecks. Brooks’ efforts have earned him the Izaak Walton Iowa Youth Conservationist of the Year award, and he was named a “Hero of Conservation” in the current issue of Field and Stream magazine.
Illinois Pioneer Pheasants Forever Chapter
The Illinois Pioneer Pheasants Forever chapter held 11 events in 2009 as part of its “Young Guns” program, involving members, women, FFA, scouts and families in trap and skeet shoots, a fishing derby, a hunter safety course, a rifle shoot and a youth mentor hunt. In 2009, the Illinois Pioneer chapter spent approximately $31,000 on youth programs. There are 290 youth members in “Young Guns” and this year they will be working on an 80-acre habitat restoration project. The chapter credits the “Young Guns” program in making its annual fundraising banquet last spring the largest in its 25-year history. Original “Young Guns” Ben Magers and Kirstin Blackford helped create and serve on the newly formed Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever State Youth Leadership Council, and each was recognized as a 2009 Environmental Hero by the Illinois Governor.
Great River Area Quail Forever Chapter
This chapter does youth work on both sides of the Mississippi River – in Illinois and Iowa. From presentations to high school kids, an FFA banquet, hunter safety programs and youth fishing tournaments, Great River Area Quail Forever chapter members engaged youth and talked about habitat and the needs of quail. The chapter also held its first mentored youth hunt last September.
For more about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s No Child Left Indoors® initiative, contact Cheryl Riley at firstname.lastname@example.org and 651.209.4975.
Pheasants Forever and its quail division, Quail Forever, is a non-profit conservation organization is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs. Pheasants Forever has more than 120,000 members in 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada.