Phasianus colchicus. This may mean nothing to you, but if you revert back to your childhood a bit, it might sound like something out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Phasianus colchicus is the real Latin name for the bird who mimics the same style of sprinting as the Road Runner when being chased -- the pheasant. And much like the Road Runner, this sleek bird has become a star in its own right, inspiring a conservation group called Pheasants Forever (PF).
PF is one of the largest conservation groups in North America with more than 115,000 members in Canada and the United States [source: Pheasants Forever]. This unique group of farmers, ranchers, wildlife specialists, hunters and non-hunters is a grassroots effort to save the habitat and heritage of the ringneck pheasant as well as other wild creatures and their environment. County chapters can be found in almost every state, and each chapter works locally to determine and develop fundraising dollars within its regional community. PF hosts annual fundraising banquets to earn money for operations, and its locally-led model of operation and efficiency in wildlife education, management and optimism has become nationally recognized [source: Pheasants Forever].
But how did this less flashy -- and much slower -- bird get his own following? And how does this homegrown organization work? Let's take a closer look to see what got this group going, its mission, membership process and fun facts about PF.
History of Pheasants Forever
On a cold March day in St. Paul, Minn., Dennis Anderson, outdoor editor for the Pioneer Press and Dispatch [italicize], ran an editorial in the local newspaper. The rest, as they say, is history. He wrote that the native habitat for the glossy red, brown and green birds was disappearing, and harsh winters were devastating their livelihood. Who was going to help pheasants survive and flourish? "It's up to those of us who are willing," Anderson wrote, "the birds need your help" [source: Herwig].
Twenty-five years later, Pheasants Forever is still flourishing as is the bird itself. PF now has chapters in every state and is regarded by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture as one of the nation's foremost conservation groups [source: Anderson].
With initial efforts concentrated on the approval of a Minnesota pheasant stamp and the development of a members banquet, early efforts to raise funding for the protection and establishment of a safe habitat for pheasants and quail has now developed into much more. There are now more than 650 PF chapters across the U.S. and Canada, a Quail Forever group and more than 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) of land under the care and guidance of local PF groups [source: Pheasants Forever Information].
Knowing the history of an organization is helpful to understanding its foundation, but what about what its goals? Learn about PF's mission in the next section.
Mission of Pheasants Forever
Anderson's simple plea went a long way in establishing the current mission of Pheasants Forever. A mission statement is incredibly important to a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the work of protecting limited natural resources. In this section, you will learn about the vision behind the PF mission.
Crafted after the work and vision of conservationist Aldo Leopold, the mission of PF draws on Leopold's words as a basis for viewing wildlife and land. Using public awareness campaigns, education and effective, localized land management policies, PF seeks to save pheasant and other wildlife populations through habitat improvement and conservation efforts.
In an effort to live the writings of Leopold, who is "considered to be the father of wildlife management," PF has developed an education program as a means to educate the public on conservation issues [source: The Aldo Leopold Foundation]. All funds raised for this program stay within local communities, and at a time when state budget cuts and wildlife resources and funding is decreasing, this vision could be very beneficial.
Now that you know PF's mission, are you interested in learning more about your local chapter? Continue reading to find out how to join the group.
Joining Pheasants Forever
Now that you've learned about Pheasants Forever, you might want to decide if membership is right for you. People's motives for joining the group vary, so let's look at some of the common reasons why members have joined.
Just as hunting has become a family tradition, PF members can enjoy camaraderie and family connections with membership in this group of outdoors enthusiasts and sportsmen. One benefit of becoming a member of PF is that if you have children, they can become part of the organization's kids club called Ringnecks and receive their own special benefits and publications.
As a member and habitat conservation advocate, you'll be linked into a federal system of conservation programs that are supported by Congress and help PF manage nearly 50 million acres (20 million hectares) of wildlife habitat. By visiting the organization's Web site, you can find a printable application for membership as well as a "renew online" link if your membership is about to expire. If membership's not for you but you'd still like to support PF causes with a one-time donation, call the toll-free number on their Web site.
The basic "associate" membership costs $30 a year, endowing you with a membership card, a window decal and a subscription to Pheasants Forever magazine [source: Pheasants Forever]. If you have a little more to spend, $250 buys you a membership at the "sponsor" level, which gives you the benefits of the associate membership plus a pin and the annual print of the year [source: Pheasants Forever]. There are levels for every budget and time commitments that fit each lifestyle.
Whether you want to help conserve pheasants or just want to enjoy the camaraderie of a group, PF might be a good place for you to start. For more information, visit the links on the on the next page.
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