"The Habitat Organization"
By Robin Gregg
Mark Twain Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of quail, pheasants, and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs, according to their website: https://missouripfqf.org/.
“At the heart of our organization is the unique grassroots system of fundraising and project development that allows members to see the direct result of their contributions. We empower local chapters to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds will be spent, allowing them to steer conservation priorities and efforts, while belonging to a larger national organization with a voice on state and federal conservation policy,” says their Unique Model Statement.
I met with Monroe County USDA’s Ben McCord who is also the President of the local Quail Forever group and Courtney Nicks, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist for Monroe, Marion and Shelby Counties on Friday. It is truly amazing how much they are involved with the private and public land owners and how they and wildlife intertwine.
With 125+ members locally, Quail Forever promotes many programs throughout Monroe County and surrounding counties including FFA Clubs; Youth Dove Hunts; $500 annual scholarships for two local high school graduates majoring in Conservation or Agriculture.
“The largest populated Quail area in Missouri is located in the Northwest region likely due to more continuous natural habitat, including escape, nesting, and brooding cover,” said Courtney.
Mark Twain Quail Forever 2019 Accomplishments were: Annual Banquet - 100% proceeds determined locally; Annual Seed Day - providing landowners with food plot seed; Habitat Challenge Grant Projects ($6,000 allocated annually); RLM Memorial Scholarship (2 recipients annually); Holds the New Hunter and Youth Mentored Dove Hunt (Partnership with MDC, NWTF, and QF); Supports 10 local shooting teams providing shells, clays, equipment, and fundraising opportunities; Pollinator Plots (Paris High School and Shelbina Golf Course); Equipment rentals at local USDA offices (seeders, burn equipment, sprayer, etc); Supports the Mark Twain Prescribed Burn Association (partnering with NWTF and MDC to provide $20,000 in burn equipment to better manage habitat); Financial support to the Legislative Action Fund ($25,000); Financial support to the Missouri State Habitat Fund ($64,000); Supporting your Farm Bill Biologist Program; Financial support to the No Child Left Indoors Fund ($26,000).
They continued to support local youth and conservation chapters and events annually: Wounded Warrior Hunt; Annual Shed Hunt; Landowner Workshops; Outdoor Classroom; Habitat/Fundraising booths at events; Cancer Awareness; 4-H Saddle Club....and more.
Quail Forever isn’t just associated with Quail like most would think. It recognizes all species from Butterflies; Bees; Monarchs; Quail; Pheasants and many more. The chapters not only strive to preserve and grow hunting heritage, they have taken up the responsibility to lead new conservation initiatives concerning soil health, water quality, and pollinator habitat as well.
Chapters commonly host youth and new hunter outreach events, habitat work days, women's field days, veterans' hunts, and more. For example, “MDC, MFA, and QF contributed to the pollinator planting completion at the Paris High School effort and students were part of the establishment last year,” said Courtney. Additionally, chapters have the ability to impact conservation at the state and federal level through special initiatives, such as the Missouri Habitat Challenge Grant or the No Child Left Indoors Initiative.
The next Women Landowner Workshop is scheduled on April 3, 2020. The next Youth Dove Hunt in scheduled in September 2020. This is usually promoted towards the youth or first time hunters. This hunt provides a two day program learning correct safety and instruction guidelines from volunteer mentors. This is FREE and open to the public.
The Annual Banquet is scheduled for October 10 at the Madison Community Center. Local FFA Chapters volunteer to help with the event and earn 40% of raffle ticket sales they promote through the fall. The chapter contributes additional funds toward providing shells and shooting clays to selected teams.
Ben shared, “One of the unique projects we are doing this year is teaming up with Whitetails Unlimited, NRA, and NWTF to provide the Monroe City FFA trap shooting team an electric trap machine".”
Rather you are a hunter, farmer, rancher, landowner, conservation enthusiasts and wildlife officials, this is a great opportunity to share you knowledge.
Starting February 11, 2020, the second Tuesday of the month, a board meeting is held at the USDA office in Paris at 5:30pm. All are invited to attend. Membership is $35/year.
If you are not a current member and are interested or want to inquire about more information, you may contact Ben at 573-682-7867.
Our land ethic and hunting heritage for the next generation is our responsibility now!
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