Funding from Whitetails Unlimited chapters has provided more than $2.25 million in local projects in the Deer Belt states of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; and despite the economic downturn, attendance at local WTU events remains strong.
"After looking at our numbers at the end of FY 2010, local chapters in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have raised $2,284,895 for conservation and education projects in their local areas," said Whitetails Unlimited Executive Director Pete Gerl. " Our membership remains strong and we expect to continue funding projects in the same manner as in the past."
Whitetails Unlimited conducts fundraising events to raise resources for conservation, education, and the preservation of the hunting tradition. Unique among conservation organizations, WTU returns 50 percent of net event proceeds back to local chapters, to use on local projects.
"By working with WTU, local chapters in Ohio have funded projects including the National Archery in the Schools Program, range improvements, handicapped and wounded warrior hunts, scholarships, youth outdoor education events, hunter safety classes, and a number of habitat acquisition projects," said Ohio Field Director Denny Malloy. " Ohio started with $7,339 in projects in 1994, and last year over $186,000 was spent on local Ohio projects. In total, WTU has spent more than $1.7 million for local projects in Ohio." These totals do not include funds provided from Whitetails Unlimited national headquarters.
The first Whitetails Unlimited banquet in Pennsylvania was held in 1989, which returned $3,104 for local projects. Since that time more than $315,000 has been returned through WTU' s Grassroots program for a wide range of projects. " Local chapters in Pennsylvania have been able to educate youngsters on gun and hunting safety, improve habitat, fund scholarships, improve shooting ranges, and provide equipment and training to schools for NASP," said Malloy, who also covers Pennsylvania.
In Indiana, Whitetails Unlimited chapters have spent $239,232 on Grassroots projects since the first banquet in 1986. WTU Field Director Tim Schlater organizes banquets in Indiana, along with southwest Ohio and Kentucky. " People who live in Indiana have a great tradition for deer hunting, and are enthusiastic about the outdoors. Whitetails Unlimited provides a vehicle for them to raise money for projects that enhance their outdoor pursuits," Schlater said. " Indiana funds have helped bring archery activities into schools, improve many ranges that provide the public a safe place to shoot, and educate young hunters."
Both field directors note that groups who have local projects in need of funding should call them to discuss the possibility of hosting a WTU event. " Many people want to accomplish conservation and outdoor education projects, but raising funds is a big job. Whitetails Unlimited can make that much, much easier," said Malloy. Schlater agreed, noting, " WTU field directors conduct banquets full time, year-round, and whenever we can find local people who are motivated, the hard part is over."
Schlater said that his best tool for expanding the number of events he organizes is an existing event. " Word of mouth is the best advertising. When someone comes to a WTU event and has a great time, and then sees how much can be raised for local projects, they make the connection to fundraising for a project they are interested in."
Anyone wanting more information about a WTU event can visit the Whitetails Unlimited website at www.whitetailsunlimited.com, or call the WTU national headquarters at 920- 743-6777. Denny Malloy can be reached at 330-507-9489; Tim Schlater can be reached at 937-393-2955.
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