Imperial, Neb – Jan 26, 2019 The Southwestern Nebraska Pheasants Forever Chapter recently hosted the first of its kind Youth Mentor Reunion Hunt. Graduates from the chapter’s previous 18 years of Youth Mentor Hunt events were all invited to reconnect and celebrate the success of the program, as well as share a day afield.
The first annual Youth Mentor Hunt for Southwestern Nebraska PF was held in 2001 with 18 participants. Since then, 244 youth have graduated from the program in Imperial alone.
The Reunion Hunt was an idea that was brought up two years ago by a few chapter volunteers, “The idea came about during a set up for one of our Youth Mentor Hunt events. We wondered if the youth we mentored years ago are still hunting,” stated Heather Francis, Chapter President and Wildlife Biologist for Pheasants Forever.
The morning started with a hunt on nearby public and private ground. Participants gathered around Public Access Maps and Stubble Guides to determine a plan of action. During the afternoon a gun handling safety course was given, as well as a photography workshop. The evening concluded with a social hour to give participants a chance to connect.
“Events like this are exciting to see, especially during a time where hunter numbers are on the decline.” states Marissa Jensen, Pheasants Forever Outreach and Communications Coordinator in Nebraska. “This is a new way to address the national R3 effort; recruit, retain and reactivation of hunters and conservationists. The Southwestern Nebraska PF Chapter approaches this challenge by reconnecting with these mentees and mentors in a unique way.”
To add to the excitement, four contests were held for the hunt portion of the day; longest tailfeather, heaviest bird, most species harvested, and most birds harvested. The competition was steep, as tired and happy participants spilled into the building at the day’s conclusion with hands full of successful harvests.
“I think what Heather and all of those that participated and helped with this weekend really left an impact on the kids involved to get out and hunt. To enjoy nature and really see the beauty and value of hunting,” stated Andrei Rodriguez, Youth Mentor Hunt graduate. “To me, that’s what it’s all about. Seeing old hunters and young hunters share one of the most primal and beautiful things we have in life, together.”
The Youth Mentor Hunt program is a partnership with Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and would not be possible without the hard work and dedication from chapter volunteers. Since 1996, the Youth Mentor Hunt Program in Nebraska has had close to 15,000 graduates and over 1,000 events.
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 149,000 members and 725 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. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $784 million on 530,000 habitat projects benefiting 17 million acres nationwide.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.