Hunting & Heritage  |  10/25/2022

Next Generation of Forever: Part One


Making a positive impact on the local habitat and community

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapter volunteers are the backbone of our organizations. They represent our boots on the ground, the pointy end of the spear, and provide the energy and passion that make our grassroots model and overall mission of upland habitat conservation thrive. That’s why we’re humbled and proud to share “The Next Generation of Forever.”

Throughout this fall and winter we’ll be celebrating select up-and-coming young volunteers from throughout the country who truly represent the future of our organizations. They have not only taken the ceremonial torch, but reignited the flame and are sprinting forward with it. So please join us in honoring and acknowledging…

The Next Generation of Forever
. . .

Cayla Bendel

North Dakota: Lady Birds Chapter of Pheasants Forever

Cayla Bendel is a charter member of the Lady Birds chapter and was a big proponent of its creation. She lives just outside of Bismarck, ND where she and her husband, Scott, and pudelpointer, Finley, love all that North Dakota has to offer. Bendel is a champion of the outreach events that the chapter puts on — focusing on bringing new women into the fold and creating more hunter-conservationists that are just as passionate about the outdoors as she is.

Chris Lee

Iowa: Aldo Leopold Chapter of Pheasants Forever

Chris Lee grew up hunting, fishing and camping in the backwaters of the Mississippi River around Burlington, Iowa. In 2005, he graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in animal ecology and a minor in forestry. He now lives just outside of Burlington, Iowa, with his wife Hillary, two children, and their wannabe-bird-dog Australian shepherd, Sophie.

Clay Cooper

Oklahoma: Big Bluestem Chapter of Quail Forever

Clay Cooper is the founder and current president of the Big Bluestem Chapter of Quail Forever located in Bartlesville, Okla. From the very first chapter start meeting on January 25, 2019, it was evident that Cooper was passionate about creating quality upland habitat and bringing new hunters into the field. The events he’s created for his chapter embody all points of what R3 stands for in “Recruit, Retain, Reactivate.” His love and passion for quail and pheasant hunting drives him to create opportunities for future generations to experience the outdoors.

Dylan Wieser

Nebraska: Merrick County Chapter of Pheasants Forever

Dylan Wieser, president of the Merrick County Chapter of Pheasants Forever #0984, was once a regular attendee of Pheasants Forever banquets during his fall outings in South Dakota before making a permanent transition as the founding member of his local chapter. Having seen the positive impacts volunteers can make for habitat conservation efforts, Wieser and his friends begged the question, “Why can’t we make a difference in Merrick County?”

Erik Johnson

Minnesota: Pelican River Chapter of Pheasants Forever

As one of the main leaders for the Pelican River Chapter of Pheasants Forever, Erick Johnson is as passionate of a volunteer as you’ll find in the United States. A proponent of quality habitat and someone who cherishes the outdoor lifestyle, Johnson has helped his local chapter host innovative events – Hands on Habitat Day, Women, Wine, and Wild Game gatherings, Learn to Hunt sessions, and incredible banquet fundraisers – while engaging community members to embrace the organization’s habitat conservation mission.

Josh Schafer

Minnesota: Douglas County Chapter of Pheasants Forever

Josh Schafer is the current treasurer for the Douglas County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, an avid outdoorsman, and a foundational leader for chapter activities including public land cleanups, land dedications, and educational field days. Schafer, who recently became a landowner himself, has embraced Pheasants Forever’s mission on his own property by utilizing biologist knowledge to manage quality habitat for pheasants, turkeys, and deer.

Are you interested in making a positive impact on your local habitat and community? Want to connect with likeminded individuals? Find a chapter today and discover how easy and fulfilling it is to get involved. No chapters in your area? Reach out to the Regional Representative in your area and we’ll work with you to find an opportunity to start your own chapter or find an alternative way to make a difference for upland habitat, wildlife, and public access.

This is part one in a continuing series. You can read the other parts here:

Next Generation of Forever: Part Two