Northwest Pennsylvania Pheasants Forever Chapter plans banquet, reflects on projects

Brian Whipkey
Pennsylvania Outdoor Columnist

A conservation group in northwestern Pennsylvania is looking forward to the return of its annual fundraising banquet on March 26 in Erie.

The Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of Pheasants Forever is noting 19 years of service to the region. For the past two years, the organization’s banquet had been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year it will be held on March 26 at the Zem Zem Shriners Club in Erie.

Ed Moss has been president for the last 17 years and is looking forward to the family-friendly event that will include a meal, numerous raffles and auctions. “It’s our No. 1 main fundraiser for the entire year,”  Moss said in a telephone interview.

Ed Moss, president of the Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of Pheasants Forever, kneels with a bird dog named Bella.

The banquet is open to anyone who would like to support their various projects that improve local wildlife habitat as well as introducing youth to the outdoors.

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The club, with close to 300 adult and youth members, serves Warren, Erie, Crawford and Mercer counties. It is one of 760 chapters of the organization that serves the United States and Canada.

With a name like Pheasants Forever, it might be easy to get the impression that it’s an organization about raising hunting birds. Instead, the members are focused on creating better habitat for wildlife and other conservation efforts.

For example, in Erie County the members are working with PennDOT to create more than 5 acres of pollination fields for flowers at the I-90/Route 8 intersection.

The work is to be completed this spring and is designed to attract bees and butterflies. “It not only beautifies the area, but it also adds an area for all of our pollinators, our bees and our butterflies. It’s kind of a win-win situation… It’s something we funded completely on our own,” he said about the beautify Pennsylvania project.

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“Without butterflies and bees, pretty soon we will run out of food. Farmers won’t be able to grow crops,” he said about the benefits of creating pollination areas.

They also help the Pennsylvania Game Commission with habitat improvement projects on State Game Lands regarding food plots and grassy areas. “We work with them very closely on putting habitat on some of the Game Lands,” Moss said.

The club also organizes youth hunts that are at no cost to the participants as well as  hosting annual bird hunts for veterans.

Youth hunters participated in a "No Child Left Indoors" event held by the Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

The youth hunts usually have 20 to 25 participants where the kids can hunt with adults over bird dogs and the day includes a meal. It’s part of their motto: “No kid left indoors.”

Moss said they want to be able to introduce young people to the outdoors and help them understand the value of conservation projects such as grassy areas that provide food, nesting and cover for game. He said they are trying to develop youth conservation leaders. “We mentor them on the hunt as well as conservation at the same time,” he said. 

The all-volunteer organization has a strong core group of volunteers who help at all of the events. He said they are very youth oriented, and both men and women help to make each event successful.

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Moss also welcomes families to meet the club members at the Bayfront Convention Center on March 4-6 during the Outdoor Sport and Travel Expo. He said they have an inflatable BB-gun range that youth can try out for free. Adults can learn more about the organization.

Pre-registration is required for the banquet by March 14. For information, visit NWPAPF.ORG, or call the chapter president at 814-528-4538.

Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at bwhipkey@gannett.com and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on your website's homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.