After a successful launch of the Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience (YWCE) at several industry conventions earlier this year, youth educators from each of the key conservation groups traveled to MidwayUSA to meet owners Larry and Brenda Potterfield and participate in a youth shooting conference in order to prepare for YWCE at their shows in 2013.
The YWCE is a program that was developed by Larry and Brenda Potterfield and MidwayUSA Foundation Executive Director Dick Leeper. Started with a donation from the Potterfields, each participating organization created a permanent endowment which allowed them to develop a youth event at their annual convention. In return, high school students across the United States receive the opportunity to learn about conservation, ethical hunting practices, wildlife management and more.
In an effort to help each of the participating conservation organizations enhance the YWCE at their own convention, a representative from the participating organizations was invited to MidwayUSA for a leadership conference where YWCE coordinator shared their program’s best practices, areas of improvement and plans for future growth.
“We invited all the MidwayUSA YWCE partners here to Columbia to share best practices and it was a great success,” said MidwayUSA Foundation Executive Director Dick Leeper. “Everyone went home with pages of great ideas on how to grow and improve the experience for young men and women at their conventions next year.”
Since January, nearly 1,000 students attended conservation conventions in their home towns and were exposed to the hunting and shooting sports industry, some of them for the very first time. The conservation group representatives got to come to MidwayUSA, learn how to enhance their YWCE programs, and even shoot a round of sporting clays with Larry Potterfield.
“Our future lies in the hands of the decision makers that are in school today,” said MidwayUSA founder and CEO Larry Potterfield. “These young folks, our kids and grandkids, are tomorrow’s leaders, so it”s important that we teach them about wildlife conservation and hunting today.”
Be on the lookout for a YWCE at a trade show near you in 2013! Plans are already in the works for Dallas Safari Club, Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and Mule Deer Foundation, Pheasants Forever and the Kansas City chapter of Safari Club International.