Local chapters and partners were recognized in early 2022 at the Pheasants Forever Minnesota State meeting for their outstanding work in conservation.
“Recognizing the outstanding achievements of our chapters, chapter volunteers and partners is the highlight of the year,” said Will Clayton, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s senior regional representative in eastern Minnesota. “These individuals and chapters give generously of their time to deliver the mission of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever and we can’t thank them enough.”
Partnership of the Year- This award recognizes an outstanding entity or individual whose partnership with MN PF has contributed significantly to the local mission of PF in MN. This support is instrumental in delivering local habitat and their partnership is truly valued.
Winner – Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society
- Partnership is crucial. Rarely does something significant get accomplished without the help of others. The Minnesota Pheasants Forever partner of the year award winner this year falls right in line with the Habitat Organization. The Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society cares deeply about protecting what’s left of this elusive bird’s habitat. They’re the perfect example of what it means to be a partner. This partnership has allowed the two organizations to protect nearly 4,000 acres of critical prairie chicken habitat statewide.
Wildlife Professional of the Year - This award recognizes outstanding wildlife/habitat professionals that have worked together with Pheasants Forever for the betterment of pheasant and other wildlife. Their contribution to habitat and dedication to fostering partnerships is greatly appreciated.
Winner – Robert Baden -
Robert Baden has been an integral part of conservation delivery in Minnesota, both as an assistant area manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as a Pheasants Forever volunteer and through his leadership as a volunteer for the Minnesota Prairie Chicken. He’s helped facilitate more than 3000 acres of land acquisition and has been a critical cog in our Southern Red River Valley Habitat partnership with the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The partnership, now in its eighth year, has raised over $18 million in funding for habitat projects in the southern Red River Valley that benefit a host of game and non-game species, as well as improve pollinator habitat and water quality. His can do attitude and his passion for our mission makes Rob Baden an obvious recipient of this year’s wildlife professional of the year.
Focus on Forever – Metro Area PF - ‘A Focus on Forever’ winner demonstrates their commitment to tomorrow's hunters and conservationists by working above and beyond to involve the next generation in the outdoors. This group has shown great effort to make sure young hunters, in-experienced adults, women and non-traditional audiences are a valued part of their chapter.
Winner - Metro Area Pheasants Forever and President Dave Scherf
- The Metro Area Chapter reorganized in 2010 with many goals in mind, one primary goal being the development of a sustainable youth wing-shooting program. That soon became a reality under the guidance of Mike Setran who developed a five-step shooting program that’s become the cornerstone of the youth program. Every year the Metro Area Pheasants Forever chapter offers youth (age 11 and up) the opportunity to “Learn to Shoot.” Since it’s inception, the program has grown to also include the “Learn to Hunt” program led by Steve Gnoza of Jager Outdoors. This summer the chapter also plans to institute an adult learn to hunt course based around the same principles as their youth program.
Bill Sandy Making a Difference Award – This award recognizes those that go above and beyond the call of duty to further the Pheasants Forever mission. We appreciate the hard work and effort that this recipient has contributed.
Winner - Kathy Varble, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
– Minnesota Pheasants Forever has teamed up with the DNRs Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) on over 70 grants, leading to the restoration, enhancement and protection of thousands of acres. The CPL program is one of the easiest, most effective ways Pheasants Forever restores habitat in Minnesota, and this is in no short part because of the fantastic coordination and communication skills of their program leader Kathy Varbel. Her understanding of real-world issues and how to fix them makes her a huge factor in habitat delivery statewide. The value that she adds to Minnesota’s habitat cannot be understated.
Mission Maker Award - The 'mission maker' is awarded to a chapter that asks the question "what more can we do?" They challenge the model, try new things and don't let boundaries get in the way of delivering mission. Mission Maker chapters are 'all in' and know the more Pheasants Forever works together the more work we get done.
Winner - McLeod County Pheasants Forever
– The chapter began 2021 by offering to re-new their entire membership roster AND any member that attended two out of the previous three banquets. They also simultaneously donated $10,000 to the Legislative Action fund, all after canceling their second banquet in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They hosted meat raffles and gun raffles to help offset the loss from these banquets. They also helped facilitate a $60,000 donation from Waste Management Inc to help fund the wetland and upland restorations on two new land acquisitions in McLeod County. Throughout the challenges of the last two years, Chapter # 7 McLeod County PF has continued to make mission a priority and contributed to the success of the organization in a major way.
Volunteer of the year- winner - Pheasants Forever volunteers are the life-blood of this organization. The Volunteer of the Year award recognizes the individual that’s made the biggest impact through their volunteer efforts over the past year. This person exhibits unquestionable devotion to the Pheasants Forever mission and embraces everything the organization stands for.
Winner - Kristina Ringold
- Emerging from the pandemic, Ringold organized and motivated the Legendary Longtails, Minnesota’s only active all female chapter. The chapter hosted their first membership event and fundraiser in late July, and just weeks later Kristina and company setup their first ever booth at the Minnesota Game Fair and made a commitment to underwrite 100 Ringneck memberships. Traditionally a two-weekend event, by the first Saturday of Game Fair they decided to bump up the goal by an additional 100, and ended up underwriting over 200 ringneck memberships
. The chapter also managed to squeeze in two Learn-to-Hunt Events with Becoming an Outdoor Woman (BOW). They hosted ten women, taking them though gun safety basics and eventually on two mentored hunts. The chapter also hosted the Legendary Longtail ‘Open to all Females’ hunt, with 18 participants. Ringold’s leadership and passion drove the lion’s share of these accomplishments throughout 2021, and her dedication to Pheasants Forever is well worthy of this award.
Chapter of the Year- Kandiyohi County PF - The chapter of the year has demonstrated its support of Pheasants Forever through participation in state and federal programs like the Legislative Action Fund and No Child Left Indoors. This chapter always boasts an impressive attendance at state convention and district meetings. In addition, this chapter supports youth hunters, holds off-season fundraisers even in uncertain times that require alternative membership events. This chapter works closely with their local land managers, and is extremely active in utilizing grants to leverage their local dollar.
Winner - Kandiyohi County Pheasants Forever
- Since their inception, this chapter has locally raised $2.5 to help drive the Pheasants Forever mission not only in Kandiyohi County, but also in projects that lie outside the county lines. The Chapter always demonstrates membership growth, and are also active participants in Minnesota Pheasants Forever raffles and devout supporters of the Farm Bill Biologist program. Through the chaos of the last two years Kandiyohi County has still managed to support five different land acquisitions that will total 390 new and permanently protected acres, while also supporting 655 acres in an additional 10 restoration and enhancement projects.
About Pheasants Forever
and Quail Forever
make up the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. This community of more than 400,000 members, supporters and partners is dedicated to the protection of our uplands through habitat improvement, public access, education and advocacy. A network of 754 local chapters spread across North America determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds are spent — the only national conservation organization that operates through this grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, the organization has dedicated more than $1 billion to 567,500 habitat projects benefiting 22 million acres.