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All They Need Is Access To Land

Everything is in place, isn’t it?

Fully vetted, trained mentors/experienced bowhunters with transportation, check.

Permission from parents or guardians for youth to participate, check.

Young mentees who’ve successfully completed the Nebraska bowhunter education course and met the other requirements, check.

The necessary equipment, check.

Shooting proficiency on the target range, check.

Wait, are we missing anything?

Oh yeah, a place to go.

Wait. What? A place to go.

That is what is needed in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Mentored-Youth Archery (Hunting) Program. The Mentored Youth Archery Program (MYAP) is a great, empowering program that takes young folks repetitively outdoors from start to finish and beyond.

But your saying to yourself: What do you mean these kids and mentors have no place to go? Didn’t they have a place to hunt in previous years? Yeah, but massive, historic late winter/early spring flooding in 2019 changed all of that. It negatively impacted access to lands vital to the program in the Omaha, Gretna and surrounding areas, thus more properties are being sought in those locales.

Capacity of the program is always in direct relationship to the access of land available.

So, this 25-year old, storied, nationally recognized program with a top-notch safety record is stranded.

Stranded.

This situation directly impacts dozens of youth. Just think, some 40 kids or more and their six mentors who will not get an opportunity to completely encounter the wonderful lifestyle of bowhunting!

A young mentee, safely positioned and harnessed in a tree stand, practices shooting in Nebraska’s Mentored Youth Archery Program (MYAP). Photo courtesy of Aaron Herschberger/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The mentees will miss the hands-on application of bowhunter education concepts – Safety, ethics, wildlife management and bushcraft from a cadre of the absolute best bowhunters that I know.

In my opinion, the MYAP brings young people as close to nature as they can get.

The view from above during a Mentored Youth Archery Deer Hunt. Photo courtesy of Kevin Markt, a longtime mentor in Nebraska’s Mentored Youth Archery (Deer Hunting) Program.

The mentees will also miss out on learning or improving life skills such as discipline, preparation, patience, confidence, responsibility, respect, accountability and social interaction.

Mentees social during a target shooting session with their archery equipment. Photo courtesy of Jessica (Sigel) Anderson, left, a mentee who successfully completed the Nebraska Mentored Youth Archery (Deer Hunting) Program.

The Mentored Youth Archery Program remains a model in the nation’s new R3 initiative and network focused on recruiting, retaining and reactivating hunters, anglers and target shooters. To put it bluntly, the future of hunting, wildlife management and conservation rests with programs such as these.

A mentor (Kevin Markt of Omaha, NE) and his mentee pose with an adult white-tailed deer doe taken with archery equipment by the menteee during a Mentored Youth Archery Program deer hunt in southeast Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Aaron Herschberger/Nebraska game and Parks Commission.

So, it comes down to this: We’re looking for land to hunt in the program that holds deer (and turkey).

A white-tailed deer and wild turkey are spotted near each other using the same habitat on a land tract in southeast Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Parks Division/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Would you be a willing “property partner” with us in our Nebraska Mentored Youth Archery (Hunting) Program? We’d love to have you and a healthier ecosystem will be the result!

For more details and property enrollment, contact Aaron Hershberger of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in Lincoln by phone at 402.471.6144 or via email at ngpc.MentorHunts@nebraska.gov

We thank you for your consideration!

A past group of mentors and young mentees in Nebraska’s Mentored Youth Archery Program. Photo courtesy of Aaron Hershberger/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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