As most of you know, our conservation efforts hinge on the ability of our hunting, fishing, shooting sports, boating and camping communities to introduce new participants each year to these time honored traditions. These activities just make our lives better. Each of us strives to keep these traditions alive and some of our most valuable contributions come from the many gun clubs and conservation organizations across the state. You folks are the backbone of our educational efforts and we could not witness the successes we have without you.
Thousands of kids have participated in their first upland game hunt thanks to Pheasants Forever whose chapter across Nebraska host the largest youth mentored hunting program in the Nation! The Wild Turkey Federation through its Jakes programs and youth hunts has done so much for conservation in out state. Ducks Unlimited, host of the Great Nebraska Duck Hunt mentored youth hunting program and the popular Greenwings program has introduced many youth to hunting and shooting sports. Don’t even get me started on archery! Our archery clubs maintain a host of programs and activities for youth and families. The Nebraska Bowhunters Association and Whitetails Unlimited supports one of the largest mentored archery big game hunting programs in the Nation. Each year they help get 100 kids into the woods for deer and turkey hunting nirvana! Where were you guys when I was a kid? Our archers have helped bring archery shooting to over 25,000 kids annually in their schools thanks in part to the National Archery in the Schools Program! The Ted Nugent Kids Camp in Omaha is one of the more grass root successes and continues to build each year thanks to the efforts of archers like Kevin Markt and the Golden Arrow Archery Club! Then of course we also are the proud home of the largest youth trap shooting program in the Nation thanks to the support of local trap and skeet clubs across the state. Over 2,400 kids competed at the State High School Trap Shoot this year! To top it all off, our vast number of gun clubs across the state such as the Lincoln and Seward Izaak Walton Leagues continue to offer family and youth programs designed to introduce new shooters, hunters and anglers to our sports. With all this ( and a lot more going on than space allows me to mention), is it any wonder that we actually witnessed a slight increase in hunter numbers over the last five years, slowing a declining trend that has plagued us over the last 30 years.
All I can say to you is THANK YOU! We are making an impact for the better of conservation. Don’t give up your efforts. Keep them coming and continue to motivate your members to do the same. Not only are you helping to support the greatest conservation model the world has ever known, you are changing the lives of kids across the state. You are making Nebraska a better place to live. You are enhancing small struggling economies all across this beautiful state. You are helping families find areas they can grow together. You are making us proud! I know there are many more programs I did not mention but believe me when I say you are noted and your impacts felt. If for some reason your club or organization does not have a clear slate of outreach programs, please give us a call and let us know how we can help. We also produce an outdoor skills guide to developing such programs for your club we would be happy to send you. Hunting, fishing and shooting sports will thrive in Nebraska because folks like yourself refuse to let it do anything less. Forgive me when I say Teddy Roosevelt would be proud!
See You Out There