On Friday, September 20th the Alliance hosted our 3rd annual Sportsmen’s Forum at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area outside of Lancaster, PA. It was a successful day full of presentations and discussions from both conservationists and sportsmen and women. The day even included a much needed ice cream break thanks to Turkey Hill Dairy! Presentations included speakers from educational groups like Penn State Agriculture and Environmental Center, conservation non-profits like PennFuture and Ducks Unlimited, as well as a presentation from the PA Game Commission on the status of mallards and goose populations — plus many other informative presentations from other organizations. 

The day started with some light networking over coffee and bagels as well as a wonderful presentation from keynote speaker, Ben Jones, from Ruffed Grouse Society, who came proposing the question to us: are sportsmen going to be left behind on the conversation of climate change? And his answer was yes, unless we can make a connection between climate change and the human factor. He then talked about making that human connection by describing how climate change is impacting wildlife in very unrecognizable ways. He used ruffed grouse as an example; because they don’t migrate they are great species to study on the impact from climate change. Because of climate change, mosquitos are sticking around longer and are carrying “west nile virus” which in turn are affecting the health of ruffed grouse. Jones provided other examples and was, in my opinion, doing his part to make the connection between the human factor and climate change. He ended his presentation by saying the next step is for us to step up as the next generation of conservationists and to communicate with others!  

The rest of the presentations gave great examples of how uniting our efforts of both conservationist and sportsmen and women will help strengthen a common mission. The day ended with a discussion on what everyone took away from the forum and something new that they learned. My biggest takeaway was the importance of making connections and creating conversations outside of my own social circle to help not only teach my version on conservation and how climate change affects my life, but to learn how it affects others and their lives.