Another successful Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) is in the bag! This is now the eighth summer that Mid-South Quail Forever (MSQF) has hosted the Tennessee YHEC. YHEC is one of the NRA’s programs for youth that helps to develop their hunting, marksmanship, and safety skills. It is through programs like MSQF and funds raised at Friends of NRA banquets that events like this are available.
Mid-South Quail Forever’s Chapter Chairman, Johnny McFarland, describes the mission statement of the organization as “dedicated to the conservation of quail, pheasants, and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education, and land management policies and programs.” Not only are they pioneers for conservation in the state of Tennessee, but they also run the No Child Left Indoors program, and are going into their 12th year hosting the Youth Quail Hunt. Together, MSQF and The NRA Foundation do a lot of good work for young people and for conservation.
Mid-South Quail Forever has received five grants from The NRA Foundation. The impact of that funding is significant. “When we held our first youth hunt, we had five participants. That is what we could afford after our habitat and conservation programs. After we found out about The NRA Foundation grants, we regularly have 16 to 25 young hunters at our annual youth quail hunt,” said Johnny McFarland.
The grants, coupled with the hard work of its members, have forged a great bond between the Memphis Friends of NRA committee and Mid-South Quail Forever. Not only does Friends of NRA Southern Regional Director Mike Webb help to recruit participants for several programs, but many Friends of NRA volunteers donate their time at the MSQF programs. Likewise, MSQF has been a statewide sponsor, regularly having one or two tables at Friends of NRA events and recruiting other organizations to come on as sponsors, too. Together, the two organizations have bonded over their shared values, including the importance of hunting, shooting sports, and providing exceptional experiences for youngsters.
The Youth Hunter Education Program, despite being very competitive, is an event that brings kids of all experience levels together. The program provides an opportunity to promote a healthy outdoor lifestyle and spark an interest in an age-old tradition for many Tennesseans. “I know some of these newly introduced young people have gone on to join their high school trap teams and pistol teams,” observed McFarland. Thanks to the hard work of its members and The NRA Foundation’s Friends of NRA program, MSQF continues to share the love and legacy of hunting and wildlife conservation with the next generation.
We look forward to seeing the growth of the programs and community that has developed between Friends of NRA and Mid-South Quail Forever. Thank you to all who have dedicated their time helping tomorrow’s American sportsmen and women, and best of luck to all the young quail hunters this season!