Emerging Conservation Leaders Appointed to Pheasants Forever's National Youth Leadership Council

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever has named seven new recruits to the organization’s National Youth Leadership Council – an advisory board of 20 young people from around the country, ages 12-18, who represent the hunting and conservation community for their age group. The new faces of the National Youth Leadership Council will join their existing colleagues in advocating for youth-oriented outdoor programs and conservation initiatives nationwide.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) was formed in 2006 and is touted as one of the most proactive panels in the country for developing youth leaders with an emphasis on conservation. Representing a vast portion of the nation’s pheasant and quail ranges, council representatives have worked on such important issues as bringing attention to the Federal Farm Bill. In fact, members of the group met with U.S. Representatives last month to voice a generational concern for the 2018 Farm Bill and its relevance to future wildlife populations. They have also helped pass state legislation to reduce age restrictive barriers, allowing more young people to experience hunting.

In addition to advocating for conservation on state and national stages, NYLC members also contribute to conservation education through the following:
  • Write articles and give presentations on the importance of introducing youth and families to the outdoors
  • Conduct community events that recruit hunters and cultivate land stewards
  • Work with local and state resource agencies
  • Help organize and lead local chapters
  • Serve in officer roles for their local chapters
  • Conduct habitat and youth pollinator projects
  • Help organize shooting sports teams
“I’m excited about the quality and skill sets of the 2017 NYLC recruiting class; with such committed volunteer conservationists and land stewards, it is going to be inspiring to work with them over the next several years,” stated Rich Wissink, director of education and outreach for Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. “The present challenges to wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage are many, but I’m confident this group of talented young leaders will help shape a brighter future for wildlife, public lands, and sportsmen and women of America.”
2017 NYLC Recruiting Class
Tyler Bernard – Sponsored by the Corner Covey Chapter of Quail Forever, 13 year-old Tyler Bernard represents the State of Missouri for the NYLC. Bernard is an avid athlete who plays football, basketball and baseball, and is involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Serving on his school’s Student Council and actively participating in 4-H, Bernard is dedicated to his education as well as the education of others, specifically in regards to wildlife conservation. In his free time, Bernard enjoys the outdoors and hunts with his black lab, “Ace.”
Luke Murphy – A high school freshman from Montana, Luke Murphy was nominated to the NYLC board by the Headwaters Chapter of Pheasants Forever. Murphy is very active in the National High School Rodeo Association and competes in both team roping and calf roping. When he’s not traveling to participate in rodeos, you can find him behind his German wirehair, “Grit,” as they chase longtails in the Montana river bottoms or watch the sky for waterfowl along the Missouri River. Murphy hopes to have a positive impact on the wildlife he enjoys so much.-
Austin Pringle – Nominated by the North Central Pennsylvania Chapter of Pheasants Forever, high schooler Austin Pringle works closely with his local chapter by serving on the banquet, fundraising, habitat and youth committees in order to positively influence wildlife habitat efforts in the local community. His passion as a hunter and appreciation for conserving habitat began at a young age and Pringle now spends much of his free time in the fall behind his bird dog, “Gunner.” Pringle is currently a high school trap team member who enjoys hunting, fishing, and his favorite sport of soccer.
Dorrie Olay – Eighth grade Pheasants Forever member, Dorrie Olay, actively participates in her chapter’s raffles, banquets, habitat events and youth hunts. She enjoys all things outdoors from horseback riding to hunting and fishing, and relishes in sharing her affinity for wildlife habitat conservation with others. As an accomplished musician, Olay’s talents have allowed her to not only participate in her middle school concert and jazz bands, but to also be in the high school marching band drumline. Olay was nominated to the NYLC by the North Central Pennsylvania Chapter of Pheasants Forever.
Blake Saffell – Sponsored by the Wheat Country Chapter of Pheasants Forever in Kansas, 14 year-old Blake Saffell is a competitive athlete in golf, baseball and basketball, as well as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Outside of sports, Saffell is an avid upland hunter who enjoys the outdoor lifestyle and understands the importance of wildlife habitat conservation.  
Mackenzie Schmitz – Nominated by the Delaware County Chapter of Pheasants Forever in Iowa, 16 year-old Mackenzie Schmitz enjoys sharing her passion for conservation with others. Outside of assisting her local Pheasants Forever chapter with banquets, fundraisers and youth events, Schmitz is an active athlete who competes in softball, basketball and cross-country track. When she’s not focused on wildlife conservation or competing at a sporting event, Schmitz can be found participating in the Art Club, Future Business Leaders of America, or Girl Scouts.
Hunter Spruill – Growing up on a family farm and having experienced wildlife habitat management firsthand, 15 year-old Hunter Spruill truly realizes the importance of wildlife management practices and looks forward to making a difference for conservation as a NYLC member. Involved in Boy Scouts, Spruill currently holds the rank of Life. Not only does Spruill enjoy shooting skeet and sporting clays as a member of his local trap team, but he also enjoys pursuing turkey, deer, upland birds and waterfowl as an avid hunter. Spruill was nominated to the National Youth Leadership Council by the St. Louis Chapter of Quail Forever in Missouri.

About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 149,000 members and 720 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $708 million on 517,000 habitat projects benefiting 15.8 million acres nationwide. 
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