"We Do It As a Family"

c8c6eba0-6917-45a8-a326-e6bdf20fe5f7 From left: Ann, Alison and Marc Fenske; a Pheasants Forever Family. Alison holds her prizes for shooting the longest-tailed rooster (23-1/4 inches) at the 2017 Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Opener.

Pheasants Forever's Fenske Family Makes A Difference for the Organization and for Habitat

By Tom Carpenter

One beauty of events such as the Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Opener is the people you meet. Maybe the most heartening aspect of all is the next generation showing up and showing their mettle.

Alison Fenske is president of the Iowa State Student Chapter of Pheasants Forever. But that's no accident: She was practically raised as a Pheasants Forever Kid.

"I would go hunting with my Dad since I was 4 or 5," says Alison. "I guess I liked it! I got to start carrying my own shotgun at age 12." She knows how to shoot it, too, dropping two longtails on a morning hunt in Lyons County, Minnesota, near Marshall.

The fit with an outdoor lifestyle was natural. Pheasants and habitat are a way of life for the family. Alison's father, Marc Fenske, started the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Pheasants Forver chapter in 1985. "There were three of who did the initial work," says Marc, "and we were the second chapter in South Dakota." When Fenske moved to Huron, S.D., he became treasurer of the Heartland Region Chapter, a post he still holds.

His wife and Alison's mother, Ann Fenske, helps run Heartland Region chapter banquets along with Alison's sister and brother.

For her part, Alison leveraged the skills she learned as Heartland Region Youth Director and took them to college at Iowa State. Through high school she also served on Pheasants Forever's National Youth Leadership Council as fundraising specialist, secretary, and ultimately, president.

'We have a neat chapter at Iowa State," says the sophomore dietetics major, "with fundraisers, shooting events, a hunt after Thanksgiving, and a banquet" that is strongly suported by Iowa's Story County Chapter and a local kennel, 6R Upland Kennels. "We come from all walks of student life -- not just agricultural fields," she adds.

Families like the Fenskes -- passing the habitat message and lifestyle through to the next generation -- are creating the future for conservation, for pheasants, and for all grassland wildlife.

"We do it as a family," says Marc. "And now we're working on our three-year-old granddaughter."