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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Teen chosen for Pheasants Forever leadership council

  • This year a young member of the McPherson Area Pheasants Forever was chosen from among applicants across the United States to serve on the National Youth Leadership Council of Pheasants Forever.
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  • This year a young member of the McPherson Area Pheasants Forever was chosen from among applicants across the United States to serve on the National Youth Leadership Council of Pheasants Forever.
    Jared Austin, a 14-year-old from McPherson, is the only member from Kansas on the council of 20. He met with the group for the first time July 9 in Fort Ransom, North Dakota.
    “Being chosen for this means I’m doing a good job,” Jared said. “It’s going to be a lot of responsibility, and it means I’m being trusted with that responsibility.”
    Members of the council are required to attend one meeting per year. At this meeting, Jared became acquainted with other members of the council and attended various courses designed to educate the youth on public speaking and leadership responsibilities.
    Jared recently arranged for a third-grade class to come out to the McPherson Valley Uplands to learn about pollinators and then plant their own. Jared was able to attend some classes specific to pollination while at the council meeting as well.
    The National Youth Leadership Council was assembled in 2006. Twenty young people are chosen from among candidates nominated by their local chapters for their community involvement and conservation interests. These youths become the spokespersons for their age groups on hunting, conservation and wildlife habitat issues. They help advise Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever on activities and creation of youth programs. They have in the past worked on drawing young people’s attention to the Federal Farm Bill and the role of hunters in the wildlife conservation in North America as well as working to pass state legislation to reduce age restrictions to allow young people to hunt.
    “Pheasants Forever is dedicated to conservation,” Jared said. “The wildlife and their habitat can’t speak for themselves, so we speak for them.”
    Pheasants Forever began a nationwide movement known as the “No child left indoors” initiative in 2001. The goal of this movement is to tear kids away from their electronic devices to enjoy the great outdoors.
    “Since I was little, my dad has been taking me outdoors to do things,” Jared said. “Not a lot of kids have the opportunity that I had, so I want give as many kids that opportunity as I can.”
    Having kids reach out to other kids is beneficial to organizations like Pheasants Forever
    “Jared has worked really hard to get youth involved in the outdoors,” Jared’s father Jason Austin said. “He is a kid. He’s one of them and easier for kids to relate to.”
    Pheasants Forever conducts over 500 youth events each year. One such event is the Youth Village at the three-day celebration known as Pheasant Fest in Des Moines, Iowa. Part of Jared’s responsibilities as a council member is to gather with the other members and help plan and lead the events of the village.
    Page 2 of 2 - This shouldn’t be too difficult for him, as once a month in his local chapter he is in charge of the Youth Shoot — a club that gets kids together to practice and learn about all manner of shooting sports.
    “We want kids to learn how to leave the earth better than how they found it,” Jason said. “This is the next generation of hunters and farmers. Jared is part of the faces of youth that are moving this program forward.”
    Jared has learned a lot about how hunting and conservation go hand-in-hand, Jason said. He has learned the responsibilities of handling and owning a firearm, and is teaching other kids what he’s learned.
    “Educating kids about what they have is so important,” Jared said. “And it’s important for them to know what can happen to what they have and how it can disappear.”

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