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Pheasants Forever chapter gears up for annual banquet March 18

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Pheasants Forever will celebrate 33 acquisitions in 33 years when it gathers for its annual fundraising banquet March 18 at the Worthington Event Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the meal to be served at 7 p.m.

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Nobles County Pheasants Forever Board Member Austin DeWitte (left) and President Scott Rall display the hardware the chapter and Rall were awarded at the state Pheasants Forever program in January. The Nobles County Pheasants Forever Banquet is March 18 at the Worthington Event Center. Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County Pheasants Forever will celebrate 33 acquisitions in 33 years when it gathers for its annual fundraising banquet March 18 at the Worthington Event Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the meal to be served at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the event are available now from LPL Financial, 1321 Smith Ave., or from Culligan Water Conditioning, 1300 Second Ave., in Worthington, or from any Pheasants Forever board member.
Scott Rall, president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever, said there will again be numerous items offered through bucket raffles, a silent auction and live auction, including a matched set of SKB over-unders - a 12- and 20-gauge, a Pheasant Run 9 original painting by local artist Brad Behrends, and a Pheasants Forever Print of the Year done by artist Michael Sieve. Sieve will be at the banquet to do an acrylic remark on the print for the lucky bidder.
“We have the most expensive prize packages we’ve ever had,” said Rall. “There’s lots of guns.”
The event, to be emceed by Billy Hildebrand, voice of KFAN Outdoors, raises money to support habitat acquisitions and programs.
“We were rated in the Top 10 percent of chapters this year for habitat expenditures,” Rall shared. “We were also in the Top 10 chapters in the nation for youth outreach. We’re still funding Worthington Area Firearms Safety, we’re still funding the Prairie Ecology Bus Center and it is our intent to host a Wounded Warrior hunt the week after (Minnesota’s pheasant hunting) opener this year.”

In late January, the local chapter was recognized during a state Pheasants Forever meeting in Willmar for achieving $6 million in total funds raised and directed to habitat projects in Nobles County. Rall said the latest acquisition - as well as three potential acquisitions identified this year - could put the chapter over the $7 million mark.
“There are only three chapters in the nation that have achieved the $6 million mark,” he added.
It isn’t the first time Nobles County Pheasants Forever has been recognized for its ability to raise funds that ultimately result in public hunting grounds. The chapter was No. 1 in the nation in 2010 and 2014, earned Minnesota PF Chapter of the year in 2011 and now sits in the No. 3 spot in the nation for habitat expenditures. Rall has collected honors along the way as well. He was recognized at the state meeting with the Bill Sandy Making a Difference Award. The award is the highest volunteer award presented in Minnesota.
As for the more than $6 million raised since the chapter was established in 1983, Rall said that money has financed or helped finance 2,366 acres of habitat in Nobles County.
Nobles County Pheasants Forever’s latest acquisition is an 80-acre tract within the Lambert Prairie Wildlife Management Area in Dewald Township. Rall said it was purchased with donations given in memory of his late wife, Kris, who died last September after a seven-year battle with breast cancer, along with dollars from Nobles County Pheasants Forever and funds from the state’s Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
The parcel has been renamed the Sweetie Marie Rall Memorial Tract. Visitors can view the parcel by driving four miles west of Worthington on Nobles County 35, two miles south on McCall Avenue and a half-mile west on 270th Street.
“It has 40 acres of native prairie pasture and 20 acres in expiring CRP (Conservation Reserve Program land),” Rall said of the property. “Only 20 acres of that parcel was in active agriculture. That will be farmed in soybeans this year and planted to native grass in the fall of 2016.”
The property, purchased from Galen Gordon, includes a tributary, which provides habitat for Topeka Shiners, a minnow on the endangered species list. Rall said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will partner to do a habitat restoration on the water course.
Pheasants Forever members and volunteers will conduct a habitat cleanup on the site April 23 to remove debris, volunteer trees and fencing. Work will begin at 8 a.m., and all volunteers are welcome, Rall said. Hot dogs and refreshments will be served following the cleanup.
“Bring safety glasses and leather gloves and we’ll have the rest of the tools,” he added. “This is a big project. We want to get this done in one day.”
Rall said he’s excited to see a portion of the Lambert Prairie WMA renamed in honor of his wife.
“Sweetie loved the outdoors and this prairie will be chock full of wildflowers.”

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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