Nobles County Pheasants Forever celebrates 40th annual fundraising banquet

28 guns were awarded to lucky attendees at the sell-out banquet.

Youth gun winners
Youths ages 6 to 12 who won guns during Friday evening's Nobles County Pheasants Forever banquet were Benjamin Potts, Will Fugleberg, Ashtyn Krohn, Josh Miller, Tassyn Bullerman, Colton Joens, Tayden Jackson, Lucas Flynn, Trenton Heusko, Lucas Fugleberg and Maddox Larson. They are shown with representatives of gun sponsors, including Big Orv's, Les and Judy Johnson, Leonard Ruesch, Southwest Hearing Technologies, Worthington Federal Savings Bank, ReMax - Genny McCuen, Round Lake Sportsmen's Club, Dave's Gunsmithing and Charles Burnham.<br/>
Photo contributed by Wes Kyoo Kouba

WORTHINGTON — Eleven youths between the ages of 6 and 12 were the lucky winners of new guns at the 40th anniversary Nobles County Pheasants Forever banquet Friday night in Worthington.

“... Why didn’t we table the discussion on something that they came forward with and said at the very beginning, ‘we’ve never done this in Nobles County before,’" Carol added.
“It’s a great school, it’s almost like a family. I really connect with these kids here. I just have a lot of love in my heart for these kids.”
“I’ve not had one person talk to me and say ‘Boy, that’s a huge safety concern. We need to spend a bunch of county funds to improve that.’”

Tickets sold out early last week for the annual fundraiser, and it was a full house at the Worthington Event Center, according to Scott Rall, chapter president. He estimated they turned away about 100 potential attendees.

“We had all of the kids ages 6-12 come up and they drew tickets,” Rall said of how the winners were selected. The chapter had eleven sponsors, each of whom donated a gun toward the giveaway.

The winners included Benjamin Potts, Will Fugleberg, Ashtyn Krohn, Josh Miller, Tassyn Bullerman, Colton Joens, Tayden Jackson, Lucas Flynn, Trenton Heusko, Lucas Fugleberg and Maddox Larson.

Aside from the youth gun giveaway, 17 additional guns were awarded throughout the evening.


The annual banquet is the largest fundraiser for the local chapter, which is a three-time honoree as the nation’s No. 1 chapter in habitat development, in 2010, 2014 and 2021.

“It is my understanding that no other chapter has won that award twice, and we’ve won it three times,” Rall said. The chapter has contributed more than $14 million to habitat, including land purchases and restorations.

“The vast majority — 90% or more — of the funds raised by our organization are used for land acquisition to benefit the general public,” he said, noting there are two parcel purchases in the works, one that is anticipated to be completed this fall, and the second to be official next spring.

In its 40-year history, Nobles County Pheasants Forever has established 43 Pheasant Run parcels, each of which is open for public hunting, bird watching and enjoyment of nature. Ten of those acquisitions were completed since 2017.

Food vendors open daily at 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
Food vendors to open at 11 a.m. Friday at Worthington's Sailboard Beach.
“Just come down and bring the kids, and we’ll have some fun activities planned,” Holinka said.

Those acquisitions don’t happen without donations, and Rall said it isn’t just banquet attendees who help their fundraising efforts. This year, the chapter had a record number of diamond and platinum sponsors, with 150 businesses and individuals giving $300 toward the chapter. Six more gave between $1,500 and $2,500 donations, and the Round Lake Sportsmen’s Club gave a $5,000 donation.

Last October, when Nobles County hosted the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, for its second time, the event coincided with a new partnership developed between Nobles County PF and the Worthington FFA Chapter. Chapter members did a pollinator planting at the site of the Elsing tract of the Ransom Ridge Wildlife Management Area and co-adopted the site through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Adopt-A-WMA program.

Rall said he hopes to expand the program, getting more youths and more organizations involved in planting pollinators this year.

“We distributed milkweed seed to all attendees at the banquet and have several pollinator plantings planned for 2023 on existing pheasant run properties,” Rall said. “They will include either the FFA or some other youth organization.”


This past winter posed numerous concerns for the area’s pheasant population due to snow depth and storm frequency. The local chapter, with corn donations from area farmers Matt Widboom and Tom Behrends and more than 100 volunteers, worked to provide food for the pheasants

“A large portion of the challenge of feeding pheasants this year was how opportunistic the deer are,” Rall said. “There’s no doubt the white-tailed deer population benefited from our pheasant feeding efforts as well.”

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