SCWA leads the way in recruiting youth and adults to the conservation community
Hunting and fishing activities are a very important part of my family heritage. My best memories are from times spent with family and friends in the outdoors hunting and fishing. This has been a major part of my quality of life and my relationship with God. I passed this on to my children, who also share this passion. It is my desire and the desire of the entire South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) family to pass this on to the next generation.
SCWA believes the key to successful recruitment programs is the development of a partnership with parents and guardians to provide them with quality outdoor education and outdoor activity opportunities on a repetitive basis. This will help them to develop hunting, fishing, shooting and other outdoor activities as a part of their family heritage. The culmination of these programs is the successful recruitment of youth and adults in to the conservation community.
The SCWA school-year Camp Leopold program introduces a broad spectrum of youth to the outdoors. Many of these children have never spent time in nature. Camp Leopold opens their eyes to God’s creation and sparks an interest in the environment. Camp Leopold gives them a desire to learn more about habitat, fishing, hunting, shooting and wildlife ecology.
Many of these children learn about Camp Woodie (SCWA’s summer camp) during their stay at Camp Leopold. A child can then attend Camp Woodie for up to 10 years to gain valuable outdoor skills. Their parents or guardians can attend weekend SCWA Outdoor Heritage Events with their child to learn more about wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing, archery, dog training and shooting skills. They also learn about outdoor opportunities provided by SCDNR, the South Carolina Wildlife Partnership, USFWS, and private landowners. In addition, they can attend annual SCWA parent child hunting and fishing events like this year’s Camp Woodie Plus program.
Campers who develop a desire to work in the conservation field can also attend our two-year Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program, where they learn hands-on wildlife and fisheries management skills, equipping them to make a large-scale impact on habitat management. We are working to grow this program to 10 annual graduates. SCWA also assists in placing each graduate in a quality wildlife conservation job.
I believe SCWA has the best conservation education and outdoor recruitment program in the country. We are expanding our campus with new facilities and land that will allow us to increase annual Camp Woodie attendance from 1,100 to 2,200 youth, annual Camp Leopold attendance from 8,500 to 30,000 camper days, and annual outdoor heritage event attendance from 3,400 to over 7,000 participants.
In February, we received a donation of 257 acres of additional land, bringing our campus up to 1,235 acres. Since 2017, SCWA has received $9,976,000 in donations and pledges to fund our six-year SCWA Wildlife Education Center Expansion goal of $13,681,000. We are also developing a $20 million endowment to help fund program excellence.
During this Covid-19 period, our staff has developed innovative education programs like Camp Woodie Plus and Camp Leopold Plus, allowing us to continue to safely deliver quality outdoor education programs. We are also focusing on maintenance and construction projects at the Wildlife Education Center, including a new 300-person dining hall funded by the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation, 12-station sporting clays course, the Flight of the Canvasback dual zip line, 100-yard rifle range, new .22 range, waterfowl aviary landscaping, and an exciting new swimming hole with a water slide, rope swing, and blob.
I greatly appreciate the past support of all SCWA supporters, and I hope you and your family are experiencing good health and are seeing an improvement in your personal finances. All SCWA staff and board members appreciate the opportunity to continue to partner with you to help SCWA take our conservation and education programs to the next level. As the economy continues to improve, we look forward to implementing our summer, fall and winter fundraising programs to help accomplish SCWA’s mission to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.
David J. Wielicki
Chief Executive Officer