Scott Rall: Come join the fun

Scott Rall Daily Globe outdoors columnist It may be time to get the Harley-Davidson out of the shed. Just as soon as I do this I have to park my truck outside. My garage is not big enough on my side to hold both. Just as soon as I bring the motor...

Scott Rall
Daily Globe outdoors columnist 

It may be time to get the Harley-Davidson out of the shed.
Just as soon as I do this I have to park my truck outside. My garage is not big enough on my side to hold both. Just as soon as I bring the motorcycle home it will snow and get cold again, and then I have to scrape ice from the truck’s windshield. There is almost nothing about winter I hate more.
What I do know the exact right time of is the Nobles County Pheasants Forever Annual Banquet. It is a week from today, Friday, March 27, starting at 5:30 p.m., and things are going very well. We moved the event to the Worthington Event Center for the first time this year. For the last decade or so we held it at the Long Branch Saloon. Prior to that it was held for many years at the Coliseum Ballroom on Humiston Avenue out by the Interstate in Worthington.
Times have sure changed since I started helping as a committee member almost 30 years ago. Bruce Amundson was the president at that time. This is a post he held for more than 23 years. Chad Cummings held the post of president for two years, and I have worked in that position since 2006. From the very beginning the chapter has spent almost all of its funds raised on public land acquisitions. A project done on private lands in the mid-1980s was not accepted very well.
Contributors wanted to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors and the decision was made to do projects that everybody could participate in and enjoy. Make no mistake, many Pheasants Forever chapters do lots and lots of habitat work on private lands. It is just not done in this area by this chapter. It is this focus on public lands, restored top quality wildlife, habitat open to public hunting that has set the foundation for the chapter’s success.
As printed on the cover of the Daily Globe a few weeks back in an article done by Julie Buntjer, Nobles County Pheasants Forever was awarded the honor of being named the No. 1 chapter in the nation for 2014. This represents the total number of dollars spend on land and habitat improvements in a one-year period of time. Nobles County was also in the top spot in 2010.
It is just the most satisfying feeling seeing the dollars raised going into land and habitat for all forms of wildlife. This includes ducks, deer, song birds, bees and every other critter than needs a place to live.
The chapter has done this 32 times in 32 years. This is quite a feat when you consider the cost of land these days. It takes partners, and the chapter has a network of partners that is the envy of chapters across the United States. The top partner of Nobles County Pheasants Forever is the individual chapter member. The local chapter is about the fourth largest in the state, and when you consider that the entire county only has about 18,000 persons in it this is very impressive.
March 27 is the 32nd annual fund-raising banquet at the Worthington Event Center. The Long Branch was a good spot, but for the first time in a long time (since it was held in the Coliseum Ballroom) every attendee will be in the same room and every seat in the house is a good seat.
We are looking forward to seeing how the new venue will work out. More than 450 people are expected to attend and tickets are still available. When we reach 500 tickets sold, tickets sales will stop. We sell 50 more than the seating capacity of the venue because there are always a few that don’t show. You can purchase your ticket from the Daily Apple on Main Street, Culligan Water Conditioning on second avenue or at my office LPL Financial across the street from the Hy-Vee gas station.
I have often said that if everybody understood what Nobles County Pheasants Forever did, then they would all be a member. A membership cost $35. It is so much more than just a place to hunt. To many, this is the most important thing. Land and hunting opportunities are their primary reason for joining and supporting the organization. On the other hand, the Worthington Wells WMA project is a perfect example of how wildlife habitat can and does protect the water that comes out of your tap. People who care about clean water can join and support this cause even if they don’t hunt and never intend to.
Last summer I took a few members of the Worthington Garden Club on a wildlife habitat tour down in the Lake Bella area to show them the work we do with wildflowers. They were totally impressed. Pollinators are in trouble and the honey bee in particular needs our help. On all of the lands we restore we plant a broad array of different wildflowers to benefit pollinators. We are now including milkweeds in the mix to help save the monarch butterfly. I still have milkweed seeds available for free distribution.
You don’t need to be a hunter to want to help bees or butterflies, and by purchasing a membership to Pheasants Forever you are doing just that. We also support kids in the outdoors and provide our wounded military heroes hunting opportunities that they would never have had otherwise. None of these efforts have anything to do with our supporters being active hunters. In fact, many of our current supports have never carried a gun but they want to support the other things Pheasants Forever does.
The banquet is organized by a group of about 30 volunteers. Many have been around for the entire 32 years. Many have been helping for at least 25 years. It is the commitment of these volunteers and your support that have made the local chapter one of the premier chapters in the nation and one of the best known for their partnering with other non-hunting organizations.
Consider purchasing a ticket to the banquet next week. Please do it soon as the tickets are quite likely to sell out. No matter how much might have been accomplished, to date there is still so much more to do. Habitat is being lost all over the Midwest and each little parcel of permanently protected property makes a difference.
Find a reason to get behind the habitat efforts of Pheasants Forever. Pick bees or butterflies or clean water and show your support by attending next Friday. If you need more information about Pheasants Forever’s work, are interested in helping as a volunteer, or need a ticket, you can stop in at any of the businesses that are selling them or you can call me at 507-360-6027. There is work to be done and people dedicated to doing it, but none of this work can happen without your support. Please consider stepping up today for this great cause. Without measurable money raised locally we are not eligible or able to receive partner funds. I hope to see you next week.
There is one other organization that is having their banquet tonight. They are the Jackson County Conservation League. The get together is at the Rossow’s Horse Barn and Hunt Club located four miles north and 1 1/2 miles east of Lakefield. It starts at 5:30 with raffles and prizes galore. Tickets are available at the door. I will be there and so should you. Call 507-662-5490 for more information.

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