Camp Leopold 2018-2019: A school year in review

Camp Leopold 2018-2019: A school year in review

We’ve reached the end of another successful school year at Camp Leopold. The program continued to see tremendous growth and development through the 2018-2019 school year. We are so thankful for the many students, educators, administrators, staff members, corporate sponsors and SCWA chapters who have supported the program this year and made it happen. This school year, Camp Leopold saw 5,763 students from 67 schools, a new record in both categories! Corporate sponsors and SCWA chapter volunteers were responsible for providing $179,175 in Camp Leopold scholarships this year.

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Camp Leopold unveiled new features and saw a few firsts this year, including a designated reptile building at the Boyd Camp area of the SCWA Wildlife Education Center to house a variety of creatures used for the “Blood Runs Cold” class. The reptiles and amphibians are able to thrive in their private, climate-controlled building, and students are able to see all of the animals together in one place.

For the first time ever, a school outside of South Carolina attended Camp Leopold for a field trip this Spring. FernLeaf Community Charter School out of Asheville, North Carolina spent 3 days at Camp Leopold, and one educator had this to say about the school’s trip:

“The staff were rock stars! Everyone was knowledgeable, fun, flexible, and super in every way.”

Along with the first school from out of state, Camp Leopold also held the first in-school session at Midway Elementary in Camden, SC. Midway’s principal, Charles King is a long-time supporter of Camp Leopold and was thrilled with the execution and impact of the session and the invaluable experience that it brought to his students.

Camp Leopold Director, Tancey Cullum, served her first season as director in this 2018-2019 school year, after working almost two seasons as a natural resource instructor. She believes that the school-year field trip program is only going to keep getting better as time goes on.

“My first season as director has been a truly remarkable experience full of growth and challenges. I’m really excited about the direction that Camp Leopold is going in and can’t wait to see what next year has in store.” (Camp Leopold Director, Tancey Cullum)

We are looking forward to a record-breaking school year in the 2019-2020 season. We are hoping to bring new activities and new opportunities to the table for our students and educators. Thank you to each and every one who supported Camp Leopold this season. We hope to see you next year!

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Essay Contest for Joey Szorosy Scholarships

Essay Contest for Joey Szorosy Scholarships

This year, Camp Woodie is implementing a writing contest to decide the two winners of the Camp Woodie Joey Szorosy Scholarship. One winner will win a free week of junior camp (ages 8-11), and the other will win a free week of senior camp (ages 12-16). These scholarships are in memory of former Camp Woodie camper, Joey Szorosy.

Joey Szorosy was loved by so many, including those who knew him at Camp Woodie. He spent two summers at Camp Woodie as a camper and returned for a third summer as a counselor in training (CIT). Joey passed away unexpectedly at the age of 17 on March 25, 2018. Joey’s parents have very generously donated this junior scholarship and senior scholarship to send two children to Camp Woodie in honor and memory of their beloved son.

This contest is open to all children ages 8-16. One scholarship will be awarded to a camper age 8-11, and the other to a camper age 12-16. To enter the contest, the child must write an essay no less than 500 words about why he/she would like to have the opportunity to earn the scholarship for a week at Camp Woodie and what that week at Camp Woodie would mean to them. This essay must include the camper’s name, age and an email address to contact should their essay be selected. The deadline to submit a camper essay will be May 24, 2019. To submit a camper essay, email the document to campwoodie@scwa.org. Any submissions that are not emailed to this address will not be accepted.

 

Mike & Jennifer Smith fund waterfowl aviary for SCWA Wildlife Education Center

Mike & Jennifer Smith fund waterfowl aviary for SCWA Wildlife Education Center

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) is excited to announce we have received a very generous gift from Mike and Jennifer Smith. The donation will allow SCWA to construct a waterfowl aviary at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center, the home of Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold. SCWA broke ground on the new addition to the facility on May 8, 2019. The completion date goal for the project is September 1, 2019, just in time for the next Fall season of Camp Leopold.

The aviary will feature 40 species of ducks and geese living in an enclosed wetland habitat with observation deck and attached education room. The aviary will provide up close viewing of North American waterfowl species and hands-on waterfowl ecology classes to thousands of youth who annually attend Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold. According to SCWA Chief Executive Officer, David Wielicki, “This project will enhance the quality of our youth conservation education programs while becoming an education asset that will add momentum to the growth of both Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold.”

All of us at SCWA offer our sincere appreciation to Mike and Jennifer Smith for this tremendous donation. In honor of this gift and all of their past support, we will name this new addition the Mike and Jennifer Smith Waterfowl Aviary.

SCWA gains Chief Operations Officer, Val Elliott

SCWA gains Chief Operations Officer, Val Elliott

SCWA is excited to welcome Val Elliott as the Chief Operations Officer for the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. His duties include overseeing the day to day operations for SCWA, specifically SCWA’s youth education and habitat conservation programs.

Val Elliott began his career in the summer camp and outdoor education center field in 1989 as a camp counselor at Kanakuk-Kanakomo Kamps, one of the largest Christian sports camps in the world, located in Branson, Missouri. Val served there for two summers as a camp counselor and in the CIT director role. Upon graduating from The Citadel in 1991, Val took on the role of Program Director for Clemson University’s RM Cooper 4-H Leadership Center where he hired and trained staff and ran the day to day program operations. During this time, Val was also a part of a team who created the “Teaching KATE” outdoor education program. In 1995, Val moved into the Center Director role at RM Cooper where he oversaw all day to day operations, including summer camp, outdoor education, and conference groups.

In 2007, Val, his wife Elizabeth, and their five children (Emma, Lucas, Eliza, Ethan and Palmer) moved from RM Cooper to YMCA Camp Hanes, as Val became the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Hanes. YMCA Camp Hanes saw tremendous growth during his tenure, which included new summer camp partners, attendance growth in all programs, doubling the annual operating budget, quadrupling the annual giving campaign, and many site improvements, including a new retreat center, airnasium, shotgun range, equestrian center and a 5700 square-foot conference facility.

Val served on the American Camping Association Southeast section board and the SE Local Council of Leaders for over eight years. Val has been an accreditation standards visitor for over 20 years and is currently a standards instructor.

Val grew up locally in Summerton, fishing and hunting with his father on Lake Marion. According to SCWA Chief Executive Officer and Founder, David Wielicki, “The SCWA Board of Directors and I believe that Val’s connection to the area, as well as his passion for youth education and the outdoors will allow him to thrive in this organization. We believe that Val will be a vital part of growing and perfecting SCWA’s education and habitat conservation programs.”

EnergySolutions of Barnwell, SC to Sponsor Over 150 Local Students to Attend Camp Leopold

EnergySolutions of Barnwell, SC to Sponsor Over 150 Local Students to Attend Camp Leopold

Pinewood, SC – EnergySolutions of Barnwell, South Carolina has recently partnered with Camp Leopold and the South Carolina Waterfowl Association to send over 150 Barnwell County students to Camp Leopold. Attending students can expect a highly engaging field trip that focuses on conservation and the ecology of South Carolina ecosystems. Camp Leopold is extremely grateful for support from corporations like EnergySolutions, as these resources allow many students who wouldn’t have otherwise had an opportunity to attend camp. Thank you to EnergySolutions for helping us fulfill our mission as a conservation organization.

The mission of Camp Leopold is 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.

 

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First duck hunt at Boyd Camp proves a success

First duck hunt at Boyd Camp proves a success

Twelve groups of Camp Woodie parents and senior campers pulled up to the Boyd Camp site last night for a time of fun and fellowship around the fire pits before they settled down in their cabins for the night. This morning, the first duck hunt at Boyd Camp went off with a bang!

The hunters endured a rainy morning in the blinds and harvested several different species. Parents and campers came in with mallards, wood ducks, lesser scaup, and even a redhead! SCWA is thankful to be able to give parents and campers this opportunity to hunt alongside one another thanks to the Boyd Foundation. These parent/child hunts are creating moments for wildlife heritage to be passed on to the next generation.

Thank you so much to the parents, campers, hunt guides, and especially to the Boyd Foundation for making this opportunity possible.

Seven more Boyd Camp duck hunts are scheduled through the remainder of the season, and we look forward to seeing more parents and campers!

 

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SCWA Partners with Delta, UGA and USFWS on Ring-necked Research

SCWA Partners with Delta, UGA and USFWS on Ring-necked Research

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association has partnered with the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, the University of Georgia and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study the annual movements of ring-necked ducks that winter in South Carolina. The research project is part of a larger study that is also focusing on ring-necked ducks that winter in South Georgia.

Lead investigator for the project, Mark McConnell, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Outreach at the University of Georgia, and graduate student Tori Mezebish have been working on this research project since the 2016-2017 waterfowl hunting season. As evidenced by their hard work last week, McConnell reiterated, “We have put a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources into getting these birds captured and marked. It’s a fun project and could not be done without the incredible skill and dedication of our wildlife veterinarians.”

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Ring-necks are very important to South Carolina duck hunters. They consistently rank number 2, 3 or 4 in the annual South Carolina waterfowl harvest. From November 27-30th, 28 hens and 2 drakes were collected from the SCWA Black Dog duck pond and surgically implanted with satellite or GPS transmitters , 10 of which were funded by generous SCWA members. These radios will last for up to 10 months and will provide information on the movements and habitat preferences of ring-necked ducks throughout their wintering, spring migration, breeding and brood rearing portions of their annual life cycle.

McConnell relayed, “This research is both novel and important. We are the first ones to ever put an internal transmitter into a ring-necked duck. It is also important because we know very little about ring-necked duck’s wintering habitat use and migration strategies. We are hoping to learn what types of wetlands they prefer during winter. Migration is a crucial time of year for migratory waterfowl, so understanding their routes and stopover sites can inform managers on how to better provide quality waterfowl habitat during migration.”

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An intensive 22-25 hours of surgery were performed by Michele Goodman, Director of Veterinary Services for the Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania. When asked about what this opportunity means to her, Goodman communicated, “I enjoy participating in these projects for a number of reasons – implanting satellite transmitters is one of the most reliable ways to get good information on waterfowl movement and behavior which can ultimately lead to more targeted conservation initiatives. These projects are also a huge collaboration – I like working with graduate students, biologists and conservation organizations. As someone who spends most of my time working with captive animals, it’s also a tremendous privilege to get to work with wild birds.”

You will be able to track the movements of the ring-necks by visiting the Delta Waterfowl Foundation website here, and we hope to put the weekly updated movements on the SCWA website as well.

If you harvest one of these ducks, please save the duck and contact SCWA at (803) 452-6001 or USFWS at (803) 478-2217. The duck will be banded and have a short wire antenna sticking out of its back. Researchers would like to examine the body condition of any birds that are harvested by hunters to analyze if the radios have any negative effect on the body condition of the duck.

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