SCWA celebrates Boeing Corporation’s 5 years of Camp Leopold scholarship support

SCWA celebrates Boeing Corporation’s 5 years of Camp Leopold scholarship support

Since the year 2013, Boeing South Carolina has been a vital part of the success of SCWA’s Camp Leopold. The school year natural resource education program began in 2012 with the mission “to create an ecologically literate citizenry by heightening student awareness of the natural world, fine-tuning the skills necessary to read the landscape, and instilling a love, respect, and admiration for the land so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic.” Corporations like Boeing are generous enough to provide the thousands of scholarships each school year that give South Carolina students the opportunity to attend Camp Leopold. Without corporate sponsors like Boeing, the large majority of Camp Leopold attendees would not be able to participate in the program.

From 2013-2017, Boeing has given Camp Leopold $150,000 to be distributed as scholarships to 3rd-7th grade students from Title One schools along the SC I-95 corridor. Adding in their contribution for 2018, Boeing has gifted $180,000 to Camp Leopold over the course of the last five years, a total of 4,500 scholarships. Camp Leopold is proud to be a partner of an innovative corporation that is dedicated to not only building a better tomorrow for the environment, but the next generation as well.

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Alice Drive Elementary

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Walker Gamble Elementary

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R.E. Davis Elementary

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Manning Primary

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Camp Leopold 2017-2018: A school year in review

Camp Leopold 2017-2018: A school year in review

We’re so thankful for the amazing season we had at Camp Leopold this school year! Students from all over the state came to visit us and learn from our awesome instructors through a variety of different activities. None of this would have been possible without our generous corporate sponsors and South Carolina Waterfowl Association chapters throughout the state.

3,218 students from 58 different schools were touched by the Camp Leopold program from August 2017 through May of 2018. Thanks to corporate sponsors and SCWA chapters, $109,180 was distributed throughout the state as scholarships for students to attend Camp Leopold.

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Camp Leopold added some new activities to the list this school year, including “Plaster Track Casting,” “Water Quality Testing” and “Birding.” In the works for next year is a new class called “Forest Ecology,” where students will learn to assess the age of existing timber stands. Trekking through new and old growth forests, students will also learn about the key management techniques that allow Camp Leopold to efficiently manage their forests to provide habitat for thousands of species of plants and animals.

To fulfill SCWA’s vision to “provide opportunities for all South Carolina youth to participate in hands-on natural resources conservation experiences,” construction on a new lodging building at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center will begin in July. This new lodging building will expand Camp Leopold’s daily capacity from 100 campers to 150 campers. Along with new lodging, Camp Leopold will also be able to utilize a newly purchased 127-acre tract of land that has been added to the Wildlife Education Center that will include a boardwalk nature trail.

Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez, is eager to continue improvements and expand the Camp Leopold program. Gonzalez relayed, “Many key developments to both our infrastructure and curriculum have made Camp Leopold an invaluable experience for students over the past school year. As we continue to better our facilities and our program, it’s exciting to envision the opportunities that our campers will have as we continue to grow.”

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You can learn more about the camp program under the “Camp Leopold” tab of wildlifeedcenter.org. If you are interested in booking a field trip to Camp Leopold, please reach out to Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez at joe@scwa.org. If you or your company would like to provide scholarships for students to attend Camp Leopold, please contact Director of Education Programs Sales and Marketing, Ed Paul at epaul@scwa.org. We hope to see you next year!

 

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SCWA Boyd Camp to open in September

SCWA Boyd Camp to open in September

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association has received a grant from the Boyd Foundation to purchase 127 acres adjacent to the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. The Boyd Foundation grant also provided funding to develop 60 acres of waterfowl habitat, nature trails and to enhance wildlife habitat on the balance of the 127-acre property. The grant also provided funding for a new parent/child primitive camping area that will be used throughout the year and will be called “SCWA Boyd Camp.” The primitive camp site will feature a cook shed, 5 rustic 4-person cabins, fire pits and game cleaning stations.

The addition of the SCWA Boyd Camp brings the total acreage of the SCWA Wildlife Education Center to 568 acres. In addition to natural resource conservation education programs that operate through the year, the SCWA Boyd Camp presents the unique opportunity for a parent to hunt alongside his/her senior camper. A hunt at Boyd Camp will count as the Camp Woodie senior camper’s chosen youth hunt that is offered with their senior Camp Woodie registration. Camp Woodie will offer 8 duck hunts at Boyd Camp with 12 parents and 12 children per hunt, as well as 5 deer hunts at Boyd Camp with 6 parents and 6 children per hunt. Each type of hunt will cost $125 per parent/child group (1 parent, 1 child). Hunters will be responsible for bringing their own food for the duration of their stay, as well as sleeping bags and pillows for the night before the hunt. For duck hunts, the 20 lodging spots will be first come first served.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is excited to present this opportunity to Camp Woodie parents and campers. Parents will now have the ability to choose a Boyd Camp hunt on their Camp Woodie account online, just like the regular youth hunts. However, no one may sign up for a youth hunt until they have already registered and paid for a senior week of camp at Camp Woodie.

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Santee Cooper Lakes Giant Cutgrass Control Project

Santee Cooper Lakes Giant Cutgrass Control Project

In 2016, the South Carolina Waterfowl Association expressed an interest in controlling the amount of giant cutgrass on the Santee Cooper Lakes (Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion) in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), Santee Cooper and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The 4,300 acres of dense giant cutgrass stands around the two lakes proved troublesome for those who tried to access the lakes for boating, waterfowl hunting, and fishing. These stands of cutgrass also choked out valuable fish spawning areas and made it difficult for native plants that are beneficial to waterfowl to flourish. The end result was a significant reduction of quality fish and waterfowl habitat on the Santee Cooper Lakes system. The 3,300 acres around Lake Marion and 1,000 acres around Lake Moultrie desperately needed to be scaled down and maintained to allow the growth of beneficial vegetation. SCWA was pleased to donate $10,000 toward the project with confidence that the plan would enhance habitat and the experiences for waterfowlers and fishermen.

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These photo are examples of targeted areas for the project that were inundated with cutgrass. Credit: Casey Moorer

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Chris Page with SCDNR’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program relayed, “The major goals of the project are to improve wildlife habitats for hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities within the Santee Cooper lakes system, as well as overall lake access.” Santee Cooper staff used GIS software to map out the problem areas in order to effectively execute the aerial operation, with treatment being conducted by Summit helicopters. All aerial applications of Environmental Protection Agency approved herbicides were done with a spray rate of 20 gallons per acre to ensure adequate coverage and efficacy. For the year of 2016, Santee Cooper sprayed 308 acres of cutgrass, 125 of which were in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). SCDNR treated 183 acres of cutgrass, bringing the 2016 total to 491 acres of treated cutgrass. In addition to spray treatments, the Refuge also stressed the cutgrass further by lowering water levels within impounded areas (Savannah Branch) right after the aerial spray for two-three months, and then followed up with a prescribed burn in February 2017. The areas were immediately re-flooded after the prescribed burn and kept high throughout the summer.  Those three treatments combined (spraying, altering hydrology, and prescribed burning), provided excellent waterfowl habitat restoration at the Refuge.

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Taken during the 2017 follow up survey, this photo shows that the cutgrass has been drastically thinned, allowing submersed and floating leaf plants to occupy the area, as well as allowing access into the area. Photo Credit: Casey Moorer

In 2017, Santee Cooper revisited the sites to assess any needs for treatment of regrowth. With the help of SCDNR’s wildlife management area maps, Santee Cooper repeated the mapping process. Santee Cooper treated 685 acres of cutgrass in 2017 (including the Refuge), while SCDNR treated 300 acres. In total, the two organizations treated 985 acres of cutgrass around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion in 2017. Through the partnership between SCWA, Santee Cooper, SCDNR, and USFWS, a total of 1,476 acres of giant cutgrass has been treated over the past two years.

SanteeCooperCutgrass2016-2017We look forward to monitoring the success of the project this coming summer. It will take a couple of growing seasons to see the full impact of the project on fish and wildlife habitat, since it takes some time for the dense giant cutgrass stands to decompose. Once this occurs, these stands will open up to improve fish spawning habitat and to allow the growth of more beneficial waterfowl food plants. According to SCWA Executive Director, David Wielicki, “This project should result in the addition of over 1,000 acres of previously inaccessible areas for fisherman and waterfowl hunters to enjoy. It is also important to note that areas will require spraying every 4 to 5 years in order to keep the giant cutgrass from coming back.”

Praiseworthy Pintail Partners

Praiseworthy Pintail Partners

On Saturday, February 3rd, Camp Woodie hosted the 4th annual Pintail Partners hunt at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. 76 boys and girls of all different ages arrived that day to participate in the largest youth hunt in the nation. The Pintail Partners hunt is a partnership between the South Carolina Waterfowl Association, SCDNR, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Harry Hampton Foundation to provide young people with an outstanding duck hunt on one of several stellar properties with the hope to get these youth involved in waterfowl and wetland conservation.

Hunters and their parents arrived in the middle of the day to take part in a delicious lunch and mingle among other hunters. Each child received a bag from Delta Waterfowl, filled with swag from Ducks Unlimited and Camp Woodie. Additionally, TNT Taxidermy, Winn Tuck Waterfowl, and The Waterfowl Company had displays and representatives on site for youth and parents to peruse before the hunt talk. These young hunters were bursting with excitement to get out to their hunting blind, and their parents were just as thrilled, if not more-so.

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Before all of the hunters, parents and guides dispersed to their blinds, Marvin Davant of the Harry Hampton Foundation relayed an important message to the 76 young hunters: “One day, you’re going to be standing where I’m standing, and it’s going to be your job to keep waterfowl hunting alive. Think about how important this day is for you and how important it might be for somebody else one day.”

Pintail Partners would not be possible without the amazing organizations, land owners, staff members, guides, waterfowl hunting supporters, as well as parents and youth, who come together to make it happen. It truly takes a village.

Thank you so much to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Harry Hampton Foundation for donating the funds and materials to make this hunt successful. Thank you to all of the organizations’ staff members who put forth their time and effort to help the event run efficiently. Thank you to the hunt guides who volunteered to spend their Saturday leading and educating these young hunters. Thank you to Jimmy Lee (Featherhorn Farms), Larry Avins, Lou Tocci (Two Ponds), Charlie Rountree (Hickory Hill), Will & Albert Freeman (The Beach Company), David Wielicki (SCWA), and Joe Blanchard for allowing their properties to be used for this youth hunt.  Thank you to the parents who registered their children for this hunt to get them involved in the outdoors.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association hopes that, through this hunt and more Pintail Partners hunts to come, we can instill in the next generation a love and appreciation for waterfowl and wetlands conservation, so they can keep it going for generations to come.

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SCWA Yearend Gift Appeal

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Dear SCWA Friend and Supporter,

December 16, 2017 marked the 31st anniversary of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. We are proud to announce it has been a record-setting year. SCWA wildlife conservation education programs set new records in scholarship funding and camp attendance. The summer program, Camp Woodie, was at full capacity with 1,062 youth, and Camp Leopold, the school-year natural resource conservation camp, hosted over 6,000 campers. Unfortunately, we were forced to turn away over 300 summer campers due to a lack of space. As we look to the near future, the rapid growth of the Camp Leopold school-year program will also outgrow our facilities within two years. In order to pass on the legacy of our outdoor heritage to the next generation, we need to expand.

As a result of the demand for SCWA youth conservation education programs, the SCWA Board of Directors has approved a $10.5 million expansion plan for the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. The first step in the expansion plan is the acquisition of 400 additional acres that will increase the Wildlife Education Center campus to 791 acres. To date, 177 acres of this land has been acquired, thanks to generous donations. The balance of the land is set for acquisition next April. The expansion plan also includes new lodging facilities, education buildings and activity centers that will allow SCWA to increase the Camp Woodie annual attendance to 2,000 youth and allow us to host 1,000 parent/child weekend campers. The expansion plan will enable the Camp Leopold school-year program to grow to a capacity of 25,000 campers.

We need your help to pass on the legacy of our outdoor heritage to the next generation. Scholarship funding is needed to allow needs-based youth to attend camp. We also need your support to help fund our expansion plan.

Your consideration of including SCWA in your yearend giving is greatly appreciated. There are many ways to give. For example, a $480 donation will fund a Camp Woodie scholarship, and a $160 donation will fund a Camp Leopold scholarship. Or you can make a large or small donation to help fund the Wildlife Education Center expansion plan.

You can give online, by clicking on the “Support” tab on scwa.org and choosing one of the categories, or you can mail in your tax-deductible contribution to the South Carolina Waterfowl Association: 9833 Old River Road, Pinewood, SC 29125. Thanks again for your support and Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

David J. Wielicki,
Executive Director

Camp Leopold earns ACA accreditation

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After months of preparation, Camp Leopold is now officially accredited by the American Camp Association. ACA is dedicated to maintaining high-quality camp programs, and Camp Leopold is very excited to be a part of their list.

Camp Leopold Director Joe Gonzalez said on behalf of him and his staff, “This process has been a tremendous team effort – more than a year in the making.  We are very excited to show our attending schools that we have taken the time to analyze every aspect of our camp to ensure we are delivering a safe and quality program for all who visit.  This process holds us to high standards which will make Camp Leopold more marketable in the years to come – this is a true milestone for us as our program continues to grow.”

The ACA accreditation process helped to ensure that the experience Camp Leopold is providing to South Carolina students is one that will be valued and remembered. ACA’s website assures “ACA-accreditation is solid proof of a camp’s accountability, credibility, and commitment.”

The American Camp Association has a database on its website of over 3,600 camps, 12,000 programs and 47,000 sessions. Camp Leopold will now be a part of that database for viewers on the ACA site to find and research. Camp Leopold is dedicated to helping students learn and grow through knowledge of the natural world, and thanks to the ACA accreditation, we will be able to reach an even wider audience with that knowledge.

 

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