After 34 Years of Partnership and Habitat Successes, Rick Young Announces Retirement

Young delivered positive change to the nation’s upland landscapes for more than three decades

St. Paul, Minn. – Dec. 23, 2020 – Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever has announced the retirement of Rick Young, longtime Vice President of Field Operations, at the end of the calendar year. A mainstay of the organization since 1987, Young’s 34-year career highlights include building the foundation of Pheasants Forever chapters east of the Mississippi River, creation of the organization’s Farm Bill Biologist Partnership, and the birth of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s national seed program.

“Rick Young has left an indelible mark on our cherished uplands and the ways in which our organization delivers our habitat mission,” stated Howard K. Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “The hallmark of his leadership has always been innovation, continually seeking new ways to evolve our habitat delivery system to meet present challenges across changing landscapes. Rick may be retiring, but his conservation legacy will be felt forever. We can’t thank him enough for his lifelong contributions and we wish him well on his journey ahead.”

Launching his biologist profession in 1985, Young was first employed with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi, before tackling a lifelong career with Pheasants Forever. Starting as a regional field representative in 1987 with “The Habitat Organization,” Young was responsible for unprecedented chapter growth east of the Mississippi River. In that role, he fostered the creation of more than 125 chapters which are still operating today, and guided millions of local fundraising dollars into quality habitat across the country. On a local level, Young was a dedicated volunteer himself with the Walworth County Chapter of Pheasants Forever in Wisconsin, including further support as a 30-year chapter sponsor and one of the earliest Patron Members in organizational history.

In 2000, Young was promoted to Vice President of Field Operations for Pheasants Forever where he directed field staff throughout the nation and started on a path to developing some of the organization’s most mission-oriented initiatives, including the Farm Bill Biologist Partnership. Today, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever employs more than 250 biologists across 35 individual states who are responsible for delivering private and public lands habitat conservation plans on more than 1 million acres annually. Since January 2000, Young has managed more than 1,100 employees throughout the United States – regional representatives, Farm Bill biologists, state coordinators, directors, precision ag biologists, and agency program specialists – to help deliver the organization’s steadfast mission of habitat conservation.

“The collective habitat accomplishments we’ve all contributed to are amazing. I was blessed to work with colleagues like Jim Wooley, Matt O’Connor, and Pete Berthelsen who became close friends through the years. And my greatest memory I will take with me is the opportunity to have a hand in the start of so many careers,” stated Young. “It has been incredibly rewarding and humbling to see so many young biologists get their start on this team and then grow into seasoned professionals.”  

Young was also responsible for the genesis of Habitat Forever, LLC., a wholly owned subsidiary of Pheasants Forever, Inc. that employs Habitat Forever specialists throughout the country to complete habitat improvements on public and private lands. Created in tandem with the organization’s native seed program and Signature Series Food & Cover Mixes, the organization has provided an extremely valuable service to landowners and agencies looking to maximize habitat and wildlife potential. 

Young earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1981. He pursued his graduate studies at Iowa State University to earn a Master of Science degree in Wildlife in 1984. Rounding out his educational pursuits, Young earned his MBA in Management from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2007.

In retirement, Young looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Faith, and his cherished black Labs, as they split time between the Northwoods of Wisconsin and hunting/fishing pursuits throughout the country.

About Pheasants Forever

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 138,000 members and 760 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent over $900 million on 550,000 habitat projects benefiting 19 million acres nationwide. In fact, more than 200,000 of those acres are now permanently protected as public lands.