Growing up in a rural environment, it's a natural for young people to develop an appreciation for nature and wildlife, along with the sporting opportunities that go along with the great outdoors. For a group of area trap shooters and outdoor enthusiasts, a special gift is going to allow for some growth and future expansion of their group and sport.
In 2010, several members of the Palo Alto Sportsman's Gun Club proposed the formation of a high school trap shooting squad to participate in a statewide youth trap shooting program sponsored jointly by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Sports Foundation, parent organization of the Iowa Games. With an active local trapshooting organization in the Palo Alto Sportsman's group, several students at Emmetsburg High School joined the organization to create the Emmetsburg Hot Shots. The Hot Shots competed in several high school competitions in the past year and claimed several first-place finishes.
But like many other activities, shooting takes not only time and dedication on the part of the participants, but there are also financial considerations the cost of ammunition, targets, continuing education and equipment, such as shooting glasses and hearing protection, to name a few. While all involved in the Hot Shots program were in agreement that the program was beneficial and worthwhile, there were concerns over the future of the group.
Early this Fall, those concerns were laid to rest, thanks to the efforts of some adult sportsmen from the area and a national organization.
Through the efforts of area members Doug and Amy Vlasman, Tony Elbert and former Emmetsburg resident Larry Devin, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, presented the Emmetsburg Hot Shots with an endowment check for $10,000, the first such endowment award in the State of Iowa. The endowment was made possible through a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Midway USA Foundation. The endowment will generate $500 annually in perpetuity for the Hot Shots, who may use the funds for ammunition, targets or any other equipment needed to keep the shooting sport active.
"This is a great award for these young people," noted Emmetsburg High School Principal Jay Jurrens. "We're very thankful for the support of our youth and this program."
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is an organization dedicated to the preservation of enhanced wildlife habitat areas totaling over 5.9 million acres for native wildlife, including elk, as well as working to promote the acquisition, opening and improvement of public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation in North America. Through its efforts, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has preserved a land area that is equivalent to a three-mile wide swath of land stretching along the Continental Divide from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.
"Conservation depends on strong participation in hunting and shooting sports such as this, which together generate most of the revenue for wildlife habitat, management, law enforcement and research in America," noted David Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. "We're proud to support this heritage through endowments to encourage and support students with a budding interest in sporting lifestyles."
"We're very grateful to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for this incredible gift," noted Brian Garrels, one of the coaches for the Hot Shots. "This will help keep this program alive for a long, long time to come."
"This is the first endowment of this kind in Iowa, and I'm pleased that it could be made here in Emmetsburg," noted Larry Devin, a board member of the RMEF. "There is a great organization here with some very devoted people who are going to see this program grow. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to grant this endowment to these young people."
"We've been working on this for quite some time," noted Doug Vlasman, a local member of the organization. "We were all really excited to learn that it was going to happen. This is really a great thing for everyone involved in the effort."