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Outdoors with Ken Perrotte: Mentors help a new generation learn about the outdoors
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Outdoors with Ken Perrotte: Mentors help a new generation learn about the outdoors

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National Hunting and Fishing Day is coming up on Sept. 25. This special day was established in 1972 by the U.S. Congress and President Nixon to recognize the billions of dollars that hunters and anglers have spent annually for generations. This money goes directly to support fish and wildlife conservation programs

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ home page states: “You might be surprised to know that Virginia DWR is primarily funded from sources other than Virginia general tax dollars. A lot of our funding to help conserve wildlife and habitat comes from public spending on things like fishing and hunting licenses, tags, or stamps, boat registrations, and via a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition.”

Actually, the vast majority of the department’s funding is derived from those sources, with hunters and anglers the primary bill payers. They need to stay involved with the department to help shape future policy and ensure the traditions and passions they’ve enjoyed across those generations are preserved for the future.

The department has outlined ways to participate, besides commenting on proposed regulations and actively participating in the public processes designed to help guide department efforts. One way is becoming a “Hunter Mentor.”

Many of us have mentored young or novice hunters, usually on our time and using our resources. That’s laudable. You might be able to further help grow future generations of conservationists by offering to assist via the department’s mentorship program: https://dwr.virginia.gov/volunteer/#hunting-mentor.

Mentors help newcomers with their skills and facilitate opportunities for valuable field experience. Of course, ensuring the newcomers learn to be responsible, safe members of the hunting community is an important part of the agenda.

The department can connect volunteer mentors directly with new hunters who want to learn. The department says it also is trying to find land that mentors and their mentees can use for free. It’s a worthwhile effort and I hope to be able to mentor a young adult hunter this fall.

To qualify as a DWR mentor, you must be at least 21 years old with a minimum of five years of hunting experience; have completed a hunter education course; have a current Virginia hunting license; attend a mandatory training session with DWR staff; and basically have the suitable skills and temperament to do the job.

If you can’t be a hunter mentor, take someone fishing, or boating, or walking in the woods and enjoying the sights and sounds. In short, help someone get outdoors.

National Public Lands Day

Sept. 25 also is National Public Lands Day and Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation reminds people that events are being organized to help people get outside and perform a little volunteer work to benefit all who enjoy the outdoors.

Caledon State Park in King George County is hosting several volunteer working groups to re-mulch the natural play area and pick up trash along the Potomac, according to Andrew Sporrer, PR and marketing specialist for Eastern Region Virginia State Parks. The volunteer activity at Caledon is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 30 volunteers are already lined up, Sporrer said. Friends of Caledon State Park and local master naturalists also are expected to participate.

Similar events are taking place at other locations, Sporrer said. He suggests a couple ways to get involved. First, simply contact your local park or the park you’re interested in working with and ask if anything is planned.

More general statewide information is online at virginiastateparks.gov/volunteers. People with specific questions, larger groups looking for opportunities, or those with volunteer project proposals can email vspvolunteer@dcr.virginia.gov.

ASA auction

The American Sportfishing Association is among the many groups getting into the online auction craze, a way of raising funding that really took off during the pandemic. The organization has scheduled an auction to benefit its Keep America Fishing program. That is the grassroots advocacy program that gives America’s 55 million anglers a voice when fisheries policy and management decisions impact recreational fishing.

The inaugural online auction, with more than 100 items up for bid, opens Thursday and ends at 8 p.m. Sunday. The auction goes live at noon with links available on the ASA, ICAST and Keep America Fishing websites.

The online fundraiser is the only auction featuring ICAST 2021’s New Product Showcase “Best of Category” winning products plus dozens of fishing-related tackle, gear and accessories featured in the New Product Showcase, where participating companies display their latest and greatest products.

To see more, check out https://one.bidpal.net/kaf/welcome or https://keepamericafishing.org/.

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