Talk without action is meaningless. Action without focus is futility. And so it goes in the outdoor industry. Every day, all across the country, fewer and fewer children have the opportunity to hunt or to simply experience nature and wildlife, and the need for action becomes more critical if our heritage is to be preserved.
History tells us that traditions are not guaranteed forever. As with most outdoor pursuits, hunting was once mainstream, yet our children are more disconnected from nature today than at any other time in human history. Without youth participation today, our hunting heritage could disappear within the next 20 to 30 years.
That is unless we draw a line in the sand and say ‘Today, we make a difference.’ For three years, ADWA has been working to promote the deer and outdoor industry through aggressive public relations and promoting youth involvement, and I think we’re making a difference.
We’ve published Spikes Magazine (now in more than 200 public libraries), sponsored youth hunts, hosted ‘Wild Academies’ at public and private schools, and Safari Camps to teach wilderness and hunting skills. We’ve also been the title sponsor for the first nationally broadcast program to promote deer farming, and we initiated the first deer farming seminar at a state-wide FFA teachers’ conference.
But there’s always more to do and that’s why today I’m proud to introduce our Hunter Heritage Foundation and its new website at www.HunterHeritage.org. Working in conjunction with ADWA, the Hunter Heritage Foundation — a 501(c)(3) organization — will focus solely on supporting outdoor education for children, hosting youth camps and increasing youth hunting opportunities.
The Hunter Heritage Foundation incorporates a comprehensive “Take A.I.M.” philosophy for fostering youth participation. ‘A-I-M’ is an acronym for ‘Access, Involvement and Mentorship’ that outlines the programs three-tier approach for providing more youth with meaningful outdoor experiences. For Access, HHF develops partnerships with hunting ranches and land owners that enable greater access and affordability for youth hunters. Involvement is also essential and HHF encourages hands-on participation for children to enjoy hunting and other outdoor activities. Mentorship is the final key component, because for children to become interested in the outdoors, adults must first provide leadership and education that promote greater understanding for hunting and nature.
If you own a hunting or game ranch and you want to periodically welcome youth hunters, please call me. If you’d like to occasionally volunteer your time or donate support, please call me. Turning around the decline of our hunting heritage will not happen overnight and we can’t do it alone. But working together through our new Hunter Heritage Foundation, we can introduce more children to the outdoors and preserve our American outdoor heritage for future generations.
John Meng, President
American Deer & Wildlife Alliance