BHA Collegiate Program: A Year in Review

Next month, BHA's Collegiate Program will celebrate its sixth birthday. The program has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2016 at the University of Montana, a program spearheaded by BHA's own Trey Curtiss. Despite a difficult start to the year with COVID still looming, 2021 has proven to be one of the program's most successful — thanks in no small part to the students at the helm.

This year started out strong with the program's Field to Floor virtual series which educated students about the Recovering America's Wildlife Act. The three-part series included a panel with partners from The Wildlife Society, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society and the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Turning their knowledge into action, students put pen to cardstock during the fall semester and sent over 200 postcards to their senators urging them to support RAWA. 

In June, twenty of the program's top student leaders convened in Missoula, Montana at BHA's 10th Annual North American Rendezvous where they participated in chapter leader training, seminars, workshops and the highly-anticipated Wild Game Cookoff where student leaders Mateen Hessami and Walker Italia represented the program and made Hong Kong street food style chow mein with smoked caribou. University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point president, Jeffrey Edwards, received BHA's Rachel L. Carson award, recognizing him as a top young leader in conservation. Club leaders Walker Italia and Madeline Damon were recognized at the chapter leader training for their extra efforts and service to the program.

In September, clubs stepped up to the plate for BHA's Public Lands Pack-out, joining volunteers and state chapters across the U.S. and Canada to help us reach our goal of packing out 10,000 bags of trash from our public lands and waters. In celebration of Public Lands Month, BHA also unveiled their new Action Map that shows where clubs and chapters have put boots on the ground. You can see where clubs have been busy at work across North America here. We also implemented the second year of our Public Land Owner Stewardship Fund, supporting club stewardship projects for repeat grantees Castleton University (VT) and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (WI).

BHA's recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts continued to grow during the fall semester with three Hunting for Sustainability workshops hosted through our college clubs. This included the program's newest H4S workshop at the Teller Wildlife Refuge focused on learning to hunt waterfowl. Northern Arizona University also celebrated their second H4S workshop where students spent time off-campus in the beautiful Arizona desert hunting rabbits and quail.

In total, BHA's college clubs put in nearly 1,500 volunteer hours and completed 30 work service projects in 2021. We welcomed three new clubs at West Virginia University, Murray State University, and Marietta College. We end the year with nearly 100 student leaders and 1,000 club members. We are forever grateful to the students who step up amidst school and work to bring BHA's mission to their peers — we would be nothing without them.

It's safe to say 2022 has big shoes to fill, but we are always up for a challenge.

 

You can support BHA's Collegiate Program by purchasing a student membership, buying a public lands map, or donating directly

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About Kylie Schumacher

Collegiate Club Coordinator for BHA. Wildlifer, new hunter, budding angler, traveler and epicure.

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