About 11/2 years ago Jim Sonne joined a nonprofit organization here called Pheasants Forever. "I thought it would be a group of guys that just liked to hunt. Was I surprised to find out what its goals really were," he said.
When new officers were elected recently, Jim found himself in the president's chair. He will serve alongside Eric Tonn and Mike Davis, vice presidents; Carl Bisgard, secretary; Al Alpass, treasurer; Larry Boe, habitat; Dave Barnes, second treasurer and Gene Weinmaster, youth programs.
Jim said Pheasants Forever is now recognized as the largest nonprofit habitat organization in the nation, with 125,000-plus members and volunteers, 5 million acres of wildlife habitat, 750 chapters in the United States and Canada and 20,000 projects annually. It's dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other upland wildlife through habitat improvements, land management programs, public awareness and education.
"Our chapter alone planted over 700 bushes and trees just last year," Jim said. Pheasants Forever gave 3,000 pounds of seed to local farmers to plant cover and food for pheasants and all wild birds, and cover for deer and every other small animal in the area.
Each year in February, PF holds a banquet to raise money for its projects. About 150 local businesses donated gifts and money for the silent and live auctions and raffles.
On Sept. 25-26 the chapter will hold its second annual youth hunt for boys and girls ages 10-15. For details, call Jim at 525-3550 or Gene at 519-4692. "Last year was very successful and exciting because every youth got at least one bird and some of the kids got their limit. The Department of Fish and Wildlife provided 150 pen-reared birds."
They gave out two college scholarships and donated funds to two local 4-H clubs. Dayton high school graduate Kinkade Sunderland received the 2010 Pheasants Forever John Hinchliff Memorial Foundation Scholarship of $750. Kincade will major in agriculture at Washington State University.
PF offers such youth programs and activities as No Child Left Indoors so youths can experience nature firsthand and to become involved in conservation. Ringnecks is a special program for youths 18 and younger.
On Aug. 20 Chapter 258 will host its first PF Golf Tournament at the Milton-Freewater Municipal Golf Course to benefit habitat and youth programs. For information call Mike at 529-2078 or George Gillette, club pro, at 541-938-7284.
Those who are not pheasant hunters but are interested in or concerned about local habitat and youth programs and who would like to get involved may call Jim for details about how to join. Membership includes quarterly Upland Tales magazine.
Watch for the group's booth Sunday at Fourth of July in Pioneer Park or online see bluemountain.pheasantsforever.org . They also need a banquet coordinator for their Feb. 26 event. If you are interested call Jim at 525-3550 for information.
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or afternoons at 526-8313.