Glen Haverman, of rural Willey, who operates Pleasant Valley Woods, made these chairs and table from a Templeton Rye barrel, and they will be among items up for bid at the Carroll County Pheasants Forever banquet and auction Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Carrollton Centre.
Glen Haverman, of rural Willey, who operates Pleasant Valley Woods, made these chairs and table from a Templeton Rye barrel, and they will be among items up for bid at the Carroll County Pheasants Forever banquet and auction Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Carrollton Centre.
February 14, 2014

Through its 29-year history, the Carroll County chapter of Pheasants Forever has achieved remarkable success establishing and preserving habitat for wildlife.

The chapter has invested more than $1 million, developing 14,600 acres of habitat and completing more than 2,700 projects.

But as the chapter approaches its annual fundraising banquet and auction on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Carrollton Centre, the organization's president, Dave Greteman, believes it's also a good time to spotlight its support of youth activities. After all, it soon will be up to new generations to carry on the habitat mission and maintain enthusiasm for outdoor recreation, Greteman notes.

In fact, the Carroll County chapter has received awards for its support of youth events.

For years the chapter has paid for boys and girls ages 12 through 15 to attend Iowa Department of Natural Resources summer camps at Springbrook State Park. For boys it's Hunting and Conservation Camp, and for girls it's Outdoor Journey. Both camps teach youths outdoor skills.

Greteman has received numerous thank-you letters from youths the Carroll County chapter sponsored. Last year, Sara Pauley wrote, "My favorite thing to do was orienteering. I had a lot of fun working with a compass and going through the woods without a trail. ... We had time to make friends during every session. So I made a really good group of friends. Canoeing was fun, and I enjoyed getting wet! ... I had the best chaperone in my room, and all the instructors were awesome. I had a lot of fun with snakes because I was afraid of them at first, and getting to hold them, I got over it. I wish I could come back."

Greteman said the chapter pays a couple of hundred dollars each for up to 10 boys and 10 girls to attend the camps, and he comments, "We just love sending those kids down there. ... It's an awesome thing."

Also on the youth front, the chapter supports trapshoot teams representing five local high schools: Carroll, Kuemper Catholic, Glidden-Ralston, Coon Rapids-Bayard and IKM-Manning. Last year those teams totaled 85 participants.

The Carroll County chapter is one of the Iowa Pheasants Forever chapters that partners with Iowa DNR and other organizations to offer the Iowa Young Guns Program, which is designed to introduce shooting sports and basic outdoor recreational activities to people of all ages. And the chapter also supports the No Child Left Indoors initiative, which seeks to reverse a trend of physical inactivity in youth and engage them in outdoor activities and in learning about nature and conservation.

Greteman said support of such programs is important both for the quality of life of youths and the future of habitat efforts.

"If we don't have another generation of boys and girls coming up," he said, "this whole things dies in a generation or two. We have to keep trying. Youth are the health of our organization down the road."

The Carroll County chapter's banquet and auction on Feb. 22 will raise funds for youth programs as well as the Pheasants Forever mission of conservation of wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land-management policies and programs.

The banquet and auction have netted $45,000 to $50,000 in recent years, drawing overflow crowds, and Greteman is expecting another big year.

The banquet menu will feature pork loin and chicken, and there will be about 25 items up for bid in live auction and nearly 40 in silent auction.

Doors will open at 5 p.m., and dinner will begin at 6. The live auction will start about 8. Because of the large turnout for the event, the Carrollton Centre dedicates the ballroom, restaurant and lounge to the dinner.

Cost is $50 for a single dinner ticket and $20 for each additional ticket.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting Greteman at 830-6009, chapter habitat chairman Kenny Snyder at 790-2660, chapter treasurer Tracy Buck at 830-6475 or any other board member.

The model of Pheasants Forever is that the funds raised locally are put to use locally. So 2013 was another active year for the Carroll County chapter including: an 11-acre land acquisition, 14 planting projects totaling 3,100 trees and shrubs, 13 controlled grass burns to improve quality of fields, and three native-grass plantings.

Greteman said he's encouraged that the Iowa pheasant-population survey indicated a slight rebound last year after falling to historically low numbers largely due to extremely harsh winters six out of the last seven years.

Greteman said he heard mixed reports from pheasant hunters this season.

"Some say it was terrible, and some say they had some amazing shooting," he related.

This winter has been kinder to pheasants.

"Even though it's been cold," Greteman said, "There hasn't been the heavy snow or ice. They've been able to find plenty of food. It's been just fine so far, but that could change in one storm. The golden number is 30 inches of snow (a winter), and we haven't had anywhere near that this year."

The recent decline in corn and soybean prices could also bring a change in farming and return some acres to conservation programs, Greteman observed.

He acknowledges loss of habitat when farmers expanded the acres they planted to take advantage of historically high commodity prices.

"We've lost, that's for sure," he said. "You can drive around the countryside and see places where there had been filter strips a long time and they're gone. There are old building sites that are torn up."

With the commodity-price changes, he said, "I think people will be thinking more about conservation because what typically goes into CRP are marginal pieces of land. Marginal land will not produce crops as good, but when you have $8 corn and $15 soybeans, you don't need much of a crop to make good money. When those commodity prices trickle down some, there will be more people leaning toward CRP projects.

"And we hadn't had a farm bill until recently, which wasn't good. No farm bill meant no CRP. Hopefully, that will turn the tide a little bit too."

The chapter's auction has been a successful fundraiser with lively bidding on an array of items, such as wildlife art prints and handcrafted furniture. Some items that stand out in the live auction this year are four tickets to the Iowa State-Iowa football game at Iowa City, Iowa and Iowa State Bud Light neon signs, and two chairs and a table that Glen Haverman, of rural Willey, who operates Pleasant Valley Woods, has built from Templeton Rye barrels. In addition, there will be a mule-deer hunt for two to southeast Idaho, which is an exchange with a Utah chapter. Last year, Gus Macke, of rural Lake City, provided an Iowa hunt to the Utah chapter for an auction item. Haverman and Macke both are corporate sponsors of Pheasants Forever.

Before the banquet and auction even begin, the event generates strong support through sponsorships, sold at levels of $250 and $500. Last year, there were 33 sponsors at the $500 level and 168 at the $250 level, and Greteman expects similar success this year.

"I think that's a nice reflection of support from the community," he said.

In addition, an auction of corn and soybean seeds donated by local dealers has helped the event raise thousands of dollars each year. This year's donations come from Golden Harvest, Renze, Curry and Stine, and they're valued at $6,960 total.

"The seed auction raises a lot of money for us each year," Greteman said.

He recommends those attending the banquet and auction to arrive early and be prepared for a big crowd because that turnout is what makes the event so successful.