Illinois PF plans to hire five Farm Bill biologists

Springfield – Pheasants Forever is bucking trends in
Illinois.

While the posting of six positions certainly won’t put a dent in
the state’s double-digit unemployment rate, the jobs in question
come as very good news for hunters and conservationists.

At a time when a financially-weak DNR struggles to put its own
biologists in the field, PF plans to hire five Farm Bill biologists
and one regional education coordinator.

Farm Bill biologists provide technical assistance and guidance
on wildlife aspects for USDA Conservation Programs, coordinating
with DNR, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever chapters, farmers and
landowners.

Aaron Kuehl, director of conservation programs for PF/QF in
Illinois, said funding for the five biologists positions covers a
two-year period.

The positions listed will be based out of USDA field offices in
Greenville, Effingham, Gibson City, Lincoln, Fairfield and Salem,
though some of those sites may change.

Quail and pheasant hunters will take any help the state can get
– DNR has yet to replace upland game biologist John Cole, who
retired at the end of last year.

The education coordinator will plan and facilitate a variety of
conservation opportunities for youth and families. It’s a step
toward getting more youngsters involved in the outdoors in
Illinois.

The position also will help develop the PF’s Conservation Corps
Program and a Regional Youth Leadership Council.

On a related note, the Illinois PF/QF welcomed eight youths from
across the state to its inaugural Illinois Youth Leadership
Council. Kuehl said the youths were selected in October based on
their enthusiasm, passion, energy and commitment to make a
difference for wildlife, become conservation leaders and be
spokespersons for their age group.

“We’ve selected our youth and have already had one meeting and
had two of the youth attend Conservation Congress, where they got
their picture with the governor and were able to talk a bit with
DNR Director (Marc) Miller, as well as participating in the youth
breakout sessions,” Kuehl said.

“We’re pretty excited about what these kids will
accomplish.”

Kirsten Blackford and Ben Majers, both of Paxton, attended the
Conservation Congress and participated in the youth recruitment
break-outs.

The vision of the IYLC is “No Child Left Indoors,” which mimics
the youth programs focus in PF and closely resembles the national
“No Child Left Inside” initiative.

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