By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Pheasants Forever was formed in 1982, and since then, the organization has grown steadily and expanded its wildlife habitat conservation mission across much of the United States and parts of Canada.
Today, Pheasants Forever has more than 125,000 members in more than 600 chapters in the U.S. and Canada. Those numbers include a local chapter in Liberal, now in its fourth year.
The big fundraiser for the organization is its annual banquet, and the Liberal chapter will host its event this Saturday at the Seward County Ag Building.
Happy hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with games and raffles.
“There’s beverages,” April Warden of the local chapter said. “At 6:30, we serve a steak supper. Billy’s is the caterer for that. At 7:30, we’ll have our live auction.”
Some of the games include the hi-lo card game, Last Man Standing, stretch raffle, general raffle, a bean bag toss, Shut the Box, women’s raffle/table and a program money giveaway.
Warden said part of the celebration will also include a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program.
“We’ll have that information in our programs at the banquet,” she said. “We just have lots of prizes and giveaways.”
Those prizes include several paintings, sculptures and 14 guns, as well as a chance to win a lifetime hunting license or cash equivalent with each ticket.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever hired Adam Kester of Clearwater, Neb., as its newest Farm Bill Biologist, providing assistance in Grant, Hamilton, Kearny, Finney, Stanton, Haskell, Morton, Stevens and Seward counties in Kansas. Kester will provide wildlife conservation and land-use consulting to area farmers and ranchers.
With the organization’s primary focus being habitat preservation, Warden said PF would love to help with such projects, and having a biologist will allow for better contact with farmers and other people who want to upgrade their land and help with habitat.
Another big focus of Pheasants Forever is youth, according to Warden.
“We have a motto with Pheasants Forever – ‘No Child Left Indoors,’” she said. “These children are really getting out and getting to know the wildlife and the resources that are out there. They do learn some gun safety and understand it.”
In October 2010, the chapter hosted its first trap shoot.
“That was pretty neat,” Warden said. “It was to help the youth that had never been around guns or never been hunting to teach them the proper safety. They went through a safety course ahead of time. We served them lunch and just went over the proper way you carry a gun and proper way to put it on safety and load it and unload it. After they went through the safety course, they got the opportunity to shoot trap. They all got to take home their safety gear.”
Warden said numbers for the trap shoot were limited, but the chapter is looking for growth for future shoots.
“When you have guns and people who have never been around them before, you only want a certain number of kids out there, but we’re hoping to have more so that every child has the opportunity,” she said. “We actually took a waiting list of kids that want to do that so that we can have another one.”
Tickets for Saturday’s banquet are $75 for two tickets. That price includes a $35 membership fee and entry into the drawing for the lifetime hunting license. Tickets are available at the door or by calling Warden at 624-0430 or Dean Hebbert at 624-9430.