Habitat & Conservation  |  07/26/2023

Cooped-Up Crew Gets Their Hands Dirty for Pollinators


Hands On Habitat project breaks out at PF & QF staff meeting

By Kent Adams, PF & QF Director of Conservation Delivery / Northeast

In early June, leaders from the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Conservation Operations staff gathered at Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center on the shores of Lake Erie in northwestern Ohio. While video conferences are the norm nowadays, some meetings are still more productive when conducted in person.

This group of state coordinators, directors, program managers, senior Farm Bill biologists and other leaders converged to train, strategize and problem-solve with a collective eye on strengthening The Habitat Organization and our mission.

The meeting kicked off with inspirational words from new President & CEO Marilyn Vetter. Then, in the PF & QF way, we just rolled up our sleeves and got to work. But long days of presentations, breakout group discussions and strategic planning exercises required some balance … especially for a group of conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts who prefer not to be cooped up in meeting rooms for long stretches.

As the meeting planners brainstormed evening activities, they realized the June meeting date presented a golden opportunity for our staff to practice what we preach.

42 members of the Conservation Operations team went to work renovating the pollinator gardens.

With PF & QF Hands On Habitat month underway, it made perfect sense to center an evening team-building activity on a local habitat project. The goal was to give our staff a chance to experience northwestern Ohio’s local flora and fauna while gaining some much-needed outdoor therapy between meeting days.

As usual, local PF volunteers had the right connections to craft such an event. Jeff Finn, a private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Ohio and a long-time officer of the Erie-Ottawa-Sandusky PF chapter, invited our group out to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for some hands-on pollinator habitat management.

With gorgeous weather and plenty of wildlife to view and listen to, 42 members of the Conservation Operations team went to work renovating the pollinator gardens at the Refuge Visitors Center. With guidance, augers, clippers, water buckets and work gloves provided by NWR staff, our team prepared the seed beds and planted 20 flats of native wildflower plugs by hand.

Finn remarked, "Our pollinator gardens needed a lot of TLC. The number of staff that PF & QF made available allowed us to get a great deal of work done in a short amount of time. Our refuge staff couldn't believe how much better the gardens looked when they arrived the next day. It was great to have two organizations, who have so much in common, working together. Thank you PF & QF staff!"

The event rounded out with a (semi-controversial, as you might imagine) awards ceremony recognizing the top-performing teams of plug planters, followed by a sunset driving tour of the refuge. Many thanks to the Ottawa NWR staff members who worked late into the evening to host us, and to the Erie-Ottawa-Sandusky Chapter of PF for making the experience possible.

Why not have a Hands-On Habitat project break out at – or for – your next PF event? Learn more at pheasantsforever.org/handsonhabitat.