Skip to main content

Looking for a few good young people to continue preserving the outdoors

The Outdoors
Scott Rall, outdoors columnist

It was almost 35 years ago that I attended my first Pheasants Forever volunteer meeting on a Thursday night in January. I was about 26 years old. I had twins at home that were about a year old. It was mainly a bunch of older white guys all talking about what they could do to increase the number of pheasants so hunting them would improve.
I spent my first 15 years with that outfit in the generic worker bee role. Selling tickets and helping set up events was my total impact for almost 2 1/2 decades. I met a guy there who took me pheasant hunting for the first time behind a good dog, and I was forever hooked.
It matters very little if it is Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ruff Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited, Wild Turkey Federation or one of the hundreds of other conservation-related non-profits across the nation.
It is usually a small group of dedicated folks that give their time, effort, energy and in many cases their money to help keep these habitat and wildlife passions alive. The same is true for historical societies, cancer prevention, veterans groups and other organizations.
It seems there used to be an expectation that when you were old enough to be useful, you automatically gave back to some charitable cause. Whatever that was, it no longer seems to be alive in many communities, especially among younger adults.
The result is that a tearful amount of good works cannot be carried out because there is no one to fill the shoes of those no longer able to carry on their mission of attending to God’s creatures or their fellow human beings.
How did we get to this point?
I understand that life is busy. Kids have all kinds of time commitments that require parents to taxi them to and fro. When I was that age, my dad told me that’s what my bike was for. Electronics and round balls take up a lot of both kids’ and parents’ time.
When my children were born, I had lots of parent duties also. My wife worked full time, as I did, and she worked nights every other weekend. Twins born nine weeks early take up a lot of time and concentration, and I still managed to make it to a volunteer meeting on Thursday nights for most of the banquet season.
So where has that voice inside of us gone? Many folks that enjoy the outdoors think that the fee to buy a license is all that should be required to have great habitat and tons of game. Even those who have volunteered for decades sooner or later run out of energy. I am seeing it now and up close.
We have five or six older guys, many between 75-90, that just can’t do it anymore. They accounted for over 180 years of combined volunteer service. How much more can be asked of them? I might be an anomaly.
I have just as much drive to produce good habitat and conservation work today as I did when I started 35 years ago.
My body hurts a lot longer when projects are completed, but the satisfaction of a job well done eases that back pain remarkably.
As we enter the hunting seasons of the fall 2020 and we think about all that has gone on in this country over the past year, minutes outside in wild places become even more precious.
What have you done recently to either help others to enjoy an outdoor way of life or help improve the very places that these enjoyments take place in? I would love for you to consider just what organization of any shape or kind you have an affection for and then make a call this week to see what you can do to help them out.
There are about 100 medical ones and tons of conservation ones for your consideration. If you are already involved, then a high five to you. If you and I don’t step up and find our future replacements, who will magically tend to our natural resources and each other when we can no longer do it? Make a call and make a difference.
Scott Rall, Worthington, is a habitat conservationist, avid hunting and fishing enthusiast and is president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever. He can be reached at or on Twitter @habitat champion.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.