Pintail Partners 2023

PINEWOOD, S.C. (February 1st, 2023) – The South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) will help host Pintail Partners along with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, and the Harry Hampton Foundation to provide the next generation with a duck hunt on one of several private properties. The goal is to get young hunters involved in waterfowl and wetland conservation.

South Carolina Pintail Partners provides additional lottery-based, youth hunting opportunities to eligible individuals and/or parties who were not selected for the SCDNR youth waterfowl lottery hunt. SCDNR provides a list of individuals that were not selected and parties to Pintail Partners after the SCDNR lottery draw has occurred. If selected, the youth duck hunt will be held on February 4th, 2023, on a private duck impoundment in the Rimini/Pinewood, SC area. This hunt will include lunch, a safety talk, and waterfowl-themed activities hosted at SCWA’s Wildlife Education Center prior to the hunt. The following land owners have graciously volunteered to host these youth hunters: Two Ponds Duck Club, Beach Company, Featherhorn Farms, Charlie Rountree, as well as Rozier, and Boyd Blanchard.

SCWA’s Heritage Events Director, Drake Tindal, explains “This is a great opportunity to help educate the next generation in a fun and safe environment, all while giving back to the community. Seeing the smiling faces of children that are given this opportunity makes it all worthwhile.”

“We recognize the lack of access to quality waterfowl habitat and hunting experiences are a huge barrier of entry to young people attempting to enter the sport. SCDNR maximizes opportunities on their state-owned properties, but demand always outpaces their capacity. Pintail Partners is the conduit that allows youth access to a quality hunting experience they otherwise would not have. Our hope is some of these kids will fall in love with the sport and become passionate waterfowlers and conservationists.” (Lou Tocci, Board President of SCWA)

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association looks forward to continuing its hunting partnership with Pintail Partners. Pintail Partners would not be possible without the amazing organizations, landowners, staff members, guides, waterfowl hunting supporters, as well as parents and youth, who come together to make it happen. 

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

From Camp Woodie to The Gary Dietrich Wildlife Apprentice Program

PINEWOOD, S.C. (January 23rd, 2023) – The South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s Gary Dietrich Wildlife Apprentice Program is a 2-year graduate program with the goal of improving habitat management throughout the Southeast. For one of the apprentices, his time with SCWA has come full circle.

Riley Robino of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, is one of the program’s newest apprentices. Robino attended Camp Woodie at eleven years old and was invited back for his first duck hunt. He harvested his first duck and became hooked. Robino quickly realized that he wanted to work for a duck club, so he attended Clemson University and received his degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. Between summers, he worked for Camp Woodie as a shooting instructor and learned about the Gary Dietrich Wildlife Apprentice Program. 

Robino said, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about what I love to do. I hope to be able to turn my passion into a full-time profession.”

SCWA’s Habitat Manager, Blake Huddleston, shared, “What goes on behind the scenes is a lot more than what people suspect when they arrive to hunt. We need more habitat managers so we can continue educating others on why conservation is so important and what that exactly means.”

To find out more about the Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program, please go to our website https://scwa.org/about/

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

Hands-On Learning Opportunities Are in High Demand Throughout South Carolina Schools

PINEWOOD, S.C. (January 10th, 2023) – The South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s (SCWA) program, Camp Leopold, is quickly growing and making a difference in student’s educational opportunities in and out of the classroom. The Camp Leopold program is on track to have its largest year since its launch in 2012. So far, Camp Leopold has had 2,615 students attend our on-site program this school year, and nearly 4,500 students have had the curriculum brought to them via in-school programs.

So far in the 2022-2023 school year, Camp Leopold has seen a 35% growth in the number of students in attendance. In November, Camp Leopold hosted its largest overnight group in history that consisted of 121 students. We are so thankful for the students, educators, administrators, staff members, corporate sponsors, and SCWA chapters who have supported the program this year and have helped fund its continuation.

The Camp Leopold Director of Sales and Marketing, Joe Gonzalez, says that “It is rewarding to see this program finally gain traction after years of providing experiential learning opportunities for students. Schools around the state are realizing the impact that outdoor education activities have on their student’s mental well-being as well as their test scores.”

The growth Camp Leopold has experienced over recent years has been truly rewarding. Camp Leopold remains committed to offering the best outdoor education experience to students and will continue to improve, adapt, and create new opportunities and activities for a dynamic experience.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

Birdfest Music Festival Returns May 5-6 in Pinewood, SC

PINEWOOD, S.C. (December 21, 2022) – The South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s Wildlife Education Center is the new home of BirdFest, a beloved bluegrass music festival, held on May 5-6, 2023 in Pinewood, South Carolina. This year’s BirdFest is headlined by the well-known bluegrass ensemble Steep Canyon Rangers on Friday and Saturday nights. Purchase tickets and learn more at BirdfestMusic.com. 

BirdFest has brought music lovers and folks together for many years to enjoy an unforgettable weekend of good times and great music. Attendees can come to BirdFest knowing that the festival directly improves the quality of life for our community by supporting the youth conservation education programs of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. The last time family and friends gathered for BirdFest was in 2019. In 2023, BirdFest will continue featuring a family atmosphere accompanied by live music, outdoor activities for both adults and youth, and a new venue, the SCWA Wildlife Education Center.

“BirdFest is where wonderful people gather to hear great bluegrass music in the beauty of nature, while also supporting the development of the next generation of natural resource conservationists,” shared David Wielicki, SCWA CEO. 

Barrett Smith, the original BirdFest director and organizer since the festival began in 2016, shared, “We couldn’t be more excited about bringing BirdFest back in May of 2023. We’re expecting a weekend that has all of the same magic of our old festival, plus some new features that should make it bigger and better than ever. Our new venue, The South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s Wildlife Education Center, is a beautiful setting full of new family-friendly activities. We’re thrilled to welcome Steep Canyon Rangers as our host band on both Friday and Saturday nights.”

Tickets are available for Friday, Saturday, weekend pass, plus speciality options of VIP passes and “Friends of BirdFest.” All options, including how to reserve overnight RV and tent camping, are found at BirdFestMusic.com. 

“The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.”

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Join a South Carolina Waterfowl Association Chapter Banquet and Make a Difference for Local Youth

Pinewood, SC (November 2nd, 2022) – The South Carolina Waterfowl Association has just begun its annual banquet season, which helps to raise funds for Camp Woodie, SCWA’s summer camp program. The state of South Carolina consists of 46 counties and currently is comprised of 30 SCWA Chapters with over 500 volunteers. The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation. 

SCWA chapter volunteers and staff host a yearly banquet or conservation dinner designed to raise funds for Camp Woodie, SCWA’s summer camp program. Throughout the year, chapters and volunteers host a variety of events in addition to their annual functions. Most have developed programs and fundraisers designed to involve volunteers and local communities in hands-on waterfowl and wetland conservation work. Some chapters enjoy hosting fishing tournaments, 10-gun raffles, frog gigging tournaments, a last-man-standing competition, bourbon raffles, and field trials to name a few. These efforts are aimed at generating local results with the hopes to help achieve SCWA’s mission to conserve, enhance and perpetuate our waterfowl heritage. 

Mac Bagnal, the Director of Chapter Development, has been a part of chapter development since 2004. Mac says, “I enjoy taking chapter members and volunteers to our Wildlife Education Center so they can see where and how the money raised is being used. The money goes towards program funding or the infrastructure to build educational activities and locations to teach the principles of conservation and our mission to the next set of outdoorsmen. It’s moments like seeing a child explore the center and finding their love for the outdoors that drives my passion and the volunteers to continue to raise funds to send over 150 kids to Camp Woodie each summer, and the reason why I continue in my line of work.”

If you are interested in attending a South Carolina Waterfowl Association chapter event and/or joining the chapter closest to you, please click here to learn more. 

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

Camp Leopold & the South Carolina Waterfowl Association Announce Partnership with Dominion Energy: Outdoor Education Experience for Columbia Area Youth

Camp Leopold & the South Carolina Waterfowl Association Announce Partnership with Dominion Energy: Outdoor Education Experience for Columbia Area Youth

Pinewood, SC (September 20th, 2022) – 

Camp Leopold and the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) are grateful to announce a partnership with Dominion Energy. Dominion Energy has pledged $50,000 in support to provide multi-day outdoor education experiences to over 5,000 students within Dominion Energy service territories throughout South Carolina. The funding, which is reserved for students enrolled in Title I schools, will engage participants in hands-on, STEM-based classes that focus on the field of conservation. Students can expect an immersive experience in which they will become familiar with many of the diverse plants and animals of the Southeast, in addition to learning wise management techniques of these natural resources.  

“From the mountains to the sea, South Carolina’s abundant natural resources help to make our state the unique and special place we call home,” said Keller Kissam, president of Dominion Energy South Carolina. “We are proud to partner with the Waterfowl Association to help plant the seed of environmental stewardship in our next generation of South Carolinians as they grow to appreciate our natural wonders and preserve these resources for years to come.”

The main objective is for each student to leave Camp Leopold with a heightened awareness of the natural world. “Dominion Energy has been a long-time supporter of Camp Leopold and has been instrumental in helping to build our education program. Their dedication to supporting youth conservation education is a strong testament to the virtues of the corporation”, said SCWA Executive Director David Wielicki. Camp Leopold and the South Carolina Waterfowl Association are grateful to partner with sponsors like Dominion Energy, as their support is imperative to providing outdoor education opportunities to students who would otherwise be unable to attend.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

Camp Woodie Welcomed Highest Number of Campers Ever with 1520 Campers in 2022; 2023 Registration is Now Open!

Pinewood, SC (September 2, 2022) In 2022, South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s youth education and wildlife conservation camp, Camp Woodie, saw impressive growth in camper attendance over the 10-week camp schedule. Knowing demand is high, Camp Woodie is opening camp registration for 2023 early. Take advantage of preferred camp weeks by registering at https://wildlifeedcenter.org/camp-woodie/.

In 2022, more than 1,500 campers experienced amazing outdoor activities, overseen by certified camp counselors, from shotgun sports, archery, fishing, canoeing and much more.

Additionally, hundreds of campers received their SCDNR Hunter’s Safety Certification while at camp at no extra charge over the summer.

“Along with developing our next generation of outdoorsmen and women, the benefits of a child attending Camp Woodie are developing lifelong friendships, time unplugging from screens, connection with nature, and our experience fosters confidence development and teaches teamwork.” DuValle Elliott, SCWA’s Chief Education Program Officer. 

After experiencing COVID restrictions for camps in 2020 and 2021, Camp Woodie experienced record sign-ups in 2022 and even had more than 600 campers on a waiting list. 

About Camp Woodie:

Camp Woodie was established by the South Carolina Waterfowl Association in 1995. The mission of Camp Woodie is to pass on our wildlife heritage to the next generation. Camp Woodie is achieving its mission with the help of expert staff and instructors who deliver hands-on, fun-filled education to the next generation of outdoorsmen and women.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

The Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program is hiring!

Welcome, Macie Elliott & Tangie McFee! The Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program is excited to have our first two female apprentices! Are you interested in joining?

The Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program is a 2-year graduate program with the goal of improving habitat management throughout the Southeast. Candidates who have completed a 2-year or 4-year degree are able to participate in hands-on wildlife, fisheries, and natural resource management skills. Through the implementation of a quality curriculum, expert instructors, and a host of industry and landowner partners, we are equipping apprentices with the training and on-the-job experience needed to provide quality wildlife management on public and private lands. This program is a great place to kick-start your career. Through SCWA and our partners, we have successfully placed one hundred percent of our Apprentices in desired wildlife-related jobs. If you are interested, please send your resume to Jonathan Patrick (jonathan@scwa.org) or call our office for more information (803) 452-6001.

Macie Elliott
Tangie McFee

Camp Leopold Receives $30,000 from the Bass Pro & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund

PINEWOOD, S.C. (July 4, 2022) – A grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund will allow the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) to host nearly 1,000 students at Camp Leopold this coming school year.

The $30,000 scholarship program will allow more than 750 students throughout South Carolina to enjoy a field trip with their classmates at Camp Leopold’s Wildlife Education Center in Pinewood. This funding has been reserved for students from Title I schools, who may not have access to outdoor spaces easily available.  

“With every visit, we continue to see the positive impact that SCWA Education Programs have on youth and their families,” said Val Elliott, Chief of Education Programs at SCWA. “We sincerely appreciate the support of Bass Pro Shops. This partnership allows us to continue to positively impact more children.”

While at Camp Leopold, students can expect a wide array of activities throughout the sprawling ecosystems of the Wildlife Education Center. Covering right at 1,000 acres, the Center contains mixed hardwood forest, wetland, and agricultural habitats. Using a hands-on, STEM-based approach, students are surrounded in the environments they learn about in biology class at their schools. Many classes offer an opportunity for students to have an up-close encounter with native wildlife, including various species of waterfowl, turtles, and snakes.  

“We are proud to partner with Camp Leopold and South Carolina Waterfowl Association,” said Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation for Bass Pro Shops. “Our efforts are providing immersive conservation-focused educational opportunities for youth. Working together, we are creating the next generation of outdoor stewards.”

Camp Leopold and the South Carolina Waterfowl Association are grateful for our partnership with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, as it enables us to ensure outdoor education opportunities continue to be accessible for students. 

“The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation.”

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

South Carolina Waterfowl Association 

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078

Camp Leopold & the South Carolina Waterfowl Association Announce Support from the Honda USA Foundation

Pinewood, SC (July 18th, 2022) – Camp Leopold and the South Carolina Waterfowl Association are pleased to announce a partnership with the Honda USA Foundation. This initiative provides $30,000 in support to provide multi-day outdoor education experiences to over 200 students in the Darlington and Florence areas of South Carolina. While at Camp Leopold, participating students will be engaged in hands-on, STEM-based classes that focus on the field of conservation. An immersive, experiential learning approach teaches students about many of the specific plants and animals of the Southeast, some of whom they will get to meet up close! Students will learn about the role these organisms serve from a big-picture, ecosystem perspective. The goal is for each student to leave Camp Leopold with a heightened awareness of the natural world. 

Camp Leopold and the South Carolina Waterfowl Association are grateful to partner with sponsors like the Honda USA Foundation, as their support is essential in providing outdoor education opportunities to students who would otherwise be unable to attend. Corporate partnerships allow Camp Leopold to continue 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.

About Honda Corporate Social Responsibility and the Honda USA Foundation

For more than 60 years in the U.S., Honda has been committed to making positive contributions to the communities where its associates live and work. Honda’s mission is to create products and services that help people fulfill their life’s potential, while conducting business in a sustainable manner and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. Advancing its corporate social responsibility, Honda and the Honda USA Foundation support this direction through giving focused on education, the environment, mobility, traffic safety and community. Learn more at http://csr.honda.com/.

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Media Contact:

Maria Hackney

Communications Director

communications@scwa.org

(803) 825-8078