Pennsylvania outdoorsmen are among state’s most generous citizens
I had a unique request from a friend at church last week. A middle-aged woman came to me explaining that she and her husband wanted to donate their holiday bonuses to charity, as they regularly do.
This year, however, they wanted to support causes that reflected the interests of their two adult children. For their daughter, who works with children on a daily basis, it was easy to decide on a charity along those lines. But for their son, who is in the military and suggested something related to his love for the outdoors, they turned to me for suggestions.
I said I would give it some thought and get back to them in a few days with some options to consider. As I pondered her request, many amazing outdoors organizations that directly help the broader community came to mind.
There are conservation organizations, such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Whitetails Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants Forever, Quality Deer Management Association, and many others like them, whose grass-roots fundraising efforts significantly impact habitat for wildlife and aquatic species.
Then there are the countless sportsman’s clubs that host youth field days, hunter education classes, cooperative trout hatcheries, special mentor hunts, game dinners, introductory archery and BB Gun and .22-shooting classes, all aimed at recruiting new members into the ranks of existing sportsmen.
I considered the various organizations offering assistance to our military veterans, who host special gatherings for these men and women to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Wounded Warrior hunts, hiking and camping events, and fishing outings all help them recover from their time abroad and encourage a peaceful return to everyday life after deployment.
Then there are the incredible youth educational programs such as the Pennsylvania Envirothon, Wildlife Leadership Academy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Field Programs, and the Rivers Conservation Camp, which all help inform and groom future conservation leaders in the state.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest is an organization that’s certainly worthy of support as well. Its venison donation program helps feed hungry families by supplying lean protein to food banks, shelters and soup kitchens all across the Commonwealth.
And I couldn’t forget about Nevin’s Hunting Friends, a charity founded by a young western Pennsylvania boy who takes his friends with special needs on hunting and fishing excursions, or Camp Compass, which recruits inner-city youth to enjoy the outdoors while boosting self-esteem and promoting positive role models regardless of cultural differences.
The more I thought about it, the more my list kept growing, and there are others I haven’t even mentioned. Perhaps this is a reflection of all the wonderful things Pennsylvania’s outdoor community supports on a daily basis. I don’t think these programs get quite enough credit, so I wanted to publicly share my gratitude for everything the leaders of these programs do to promote the outdoors, as well as all the volunteers and financial supporters who help make them possible.
Last Saturday, while attending the Blue Mountain Chapter of NWTF’s Hunting Heritage Banquet, a gentleman from West Virginia asked for a brief moment to address the crowd. He shared his sincere thanks for Blue Mountain’s monetary support of his own NWTF chapter’s efforts to support West Virginia families recovering from devastating flood waters. He explained that with the help of a check received from our local chapter, his chapter was able to provide Christmas dinners, fresh linens and other household products to multiple families who lost everything in his home community. He drove several hours to attend our banquet and express his humble gratitude to all who contributed.
It is moments like these when one realizes just how much of a difference our outdoors family makes in this world. Sure, we may all have our own opinions on hunting or fishing methods, seasons and bag limits, and other things we like to regularly debate, but at the end of the day, most outdoorsmen are good people who really care.
As I told my friend, it’s going to be a tough decision to select just one organization to support, but thankfully she and her husband have wide variety of excellent programs from which to choose. That’s because Pennsylvania sportsmen do such a stand-up job of passing it on — they have for years — and I applaud them for their efforts.