By Dan Bechtold, Editor
The Winner chapter of Pheasant Forever places a strong emphasis on youth and the energy Winner has put into this program was recognized nationally at Pheasant Fest in Sioux Falls this weekend.
The Rosebud Chapter received the award for No Child Left Indoors top chapter. The honor was presented Friday evening by Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever.
For Winner Pheasants Forever president Mike Scott this was a nice honor to receive. He is quick to point out that this is not just a chapter award but a community award for all the support this community and the area has given to Pheasants Forever.
In October, the Winner chapter will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The local chapter started its youth hunt 14 years ago. “That was the biggest event we have done for our youth but it has grown. We have a real passion as a group to do youth programs,” said Scott in a Saturday morning interview at Pheasant Fest.
The chapter provides four scholarships, hosts a an outdoor youth day and sponsor Tripp County shooting sports and the new Winner area high school trap team.
Shelby Scott, Mike’s daughter, is a member of Pheasants Forever National Youth Leadership Council. Shelby was busy at Pheasant Fest working in the Youth Village. Shelby is a freshman at Winner High School.
For about five years the Winner Pheasants Forever chapter has worked with 4th graders in Winner on a pollinator project. This has expanded to include Colome 4th graders last year and will expand to include Gregory 4th graders. In fact, Shelby’s project on the national youth leadership council is to include Gregory in the pollinator program.
For five years, the Winner goup has hosted a hunt for members of the youth leadership council. Four members of the council and their parents get to come to Winner and enjoy a hunt.
This bond between Winner and youths and parents from other states was very evident at this year’s Pheasant Fest. Those guests have made life long friends in Winner and they were so glad to see friends from South Dakota.
“Our chapter looks at this as a community award,” said Scott. “The community has supported us and that allows us to do more for our youth. I hope the community realizes we could not have done this without them,” explained Scott.
Jeremy Clay, a member of the Winner PF chapter says it is an honor to be recognized. “It is all about getting kids outside,” he said.
Clay added what has really helped is a woking with a grand assist program with Midway USA which has been a great help to the shooting sports teams.
Clay was honored at the South Dakota state meeting Saturday afternoon as he received the states workaholic award for his efforts in promoting Pheasants Forever.
Teri Schmidt, a Winner High School graduate and now executive director of the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau helped bring Pheasant Fest to Sioux Falls. This is the first time this national event has been held in South Dakota. “To say we are excited is an understatement,” she said. “Our expectations are being exceeded. The numbers are excellent and we are hearing nothing but wonderful comments.”
At the national banquet on Saturday at the Ramkota, the national Pheasants Forever presented a special award to Schmidt and the crowd of 1,500 gave her a standing ovation.
Jesse Heese is with H and H Hunts of Millboro. His hunting service was one of several from South Dakota featured at this large event. “I think it is good to get our young people involved in hunting,” he said.
H and H Hunts provides a full hunting service. “We do every kind of hunting that is offered in South Dakota,” he said.
The National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic seems to have been quite a hit.
Officials say nearly 29,000 people attended the three day event at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. It was one of the largest events in the organization’s history.
“Upland conservation and the traditions of pheasant hunting have deep roots in South Dakota and the passion of its residents was evident throughout spectacular weekend,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “The city of Sioux Falls and the state of South Dakota hosted what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the top national Pheasant Fest conventions since the show’s debut in 2003.”
There were 1,500 in attendance Saturday night for the largest Pheasant Forever banquet. Gov. Dennis Daugaard issued his support for an expansion of the nation’s CRP to 40 million acres to help rebuild upland wildlife habitat in the Midwest including 1.5 million acres in South Dakota.
Next year’s Pheasant Fest will be in Schaumburg, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.