Local club earns ‘three-peat’ Honoured with provincial junior conservation nod

March Break was extra special for the Fort Frances Get Outdoors Club. It was presented with the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Junior Conservation Award on Friday morning at the 80th-annual general meeting and fish and wildlife conference in Mississauga.

Natural Resources minister Donna Cansfield presented the award to Nicholas Donaldson and Sara Empey, who accepted on behalf of the club. Several hundred people were on hand for the occasion. “They called us up and gave us the award,” recalled Empey, 13. “I said the thank yous and Nick talked about beaver bafflers.” Empey was gracious in her acceptance of the award. “We would like to thank the Ministry of Natural Resources for presenting us with this award,” she said. “We also want to thank the local personnel from the . . . AbitibiBowater Corp., Ben Wiersema for providing us with our meeting room and indoor archery range, the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists, and all of the adult mentors who guide us in our club activities, especially Henry Miller, who is our club leader.” “It is truly inspiring to see these young citizens working on conservation projects for their community,” Cansfield said in addressing the audience. “It is my great pleasure to personally convey the pride and appreciation of the Government of Ontario to the Fort Frances Get Outdoors Club.” This is the third time the Fort Frances Get Outdoors Club has received this honour. They first took home the award in 1998, as an earlier version of the club (the O.F.A.H. Get Outdoors program began in 2001), and again in 2003. The Get Outdoors Club, who refer to themselves as “junior members” of the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club, completed a variety of conservation projects in 2007. These included building birdhouses and monitoring bluebird lines, building beaver bafflers, helping with walleye spawning, aiding in invasive species awareness of purple loosestrife, community garbage clean-up, and firearm safety. It wasn’t all work, though. They also enjoyed winter and summer wilderness hikes, cookouts, and archery practice. As for projects in the future? “We might do a couple of different things,” said Empey, who counts cross-country skiing as her favourite club activity. “We have talked with the kids and we’re seeing what everyone wants to do.” In the meantime, the club will continue with some of the same projects that have brought them so much success over the years. With 83,000 members and 655 member clubs, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is the leading fishing, hunting, and conservation organization in Ontario and the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org Editor’s note: In other news, Fort Frances resident Jack Hedman was acclaimed to a second one-year team as president of the O.F.A.H.