Her Voice: Involvement in conservation group provides leadership opportunities for Fargo student
FARGO – As a fourth-grader, Shawna Pantzke joined the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever National Youth Leadership Council.
The 16-year-old Fargo Davies High School junior is now president of the council, which works on issues that deal with hunting, conservation and wildlife habitat. The council is made up of 20 youths from around the country, nominated by their Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever chapters for their community involvement and conservation interests.
The group has worked on issues such as bringing attention to the federal farm bill and its significance to wildlife habitat and conservation, and the role hunters play in conservation in North America, according to the group’s website.
They have also helped pass state legislation to reduce age-restrictive barriers to introduce young people to hunting, the website stated.
“If it weren’t for hunters, populations would be out of control, and we’ve seen that in past years when they’ve had to open up the state parks for hunting because the deer population was getting out of control,” Pantzke said.
Pantzke was nominated by the Dakota East (ND) Central Chapter of Pheasants Forever. Her parents were both involved with the group. After Pantzke attended a national convention with them, she said she decided it was something she’d like to join.
The National Youth Leadership Council meets twice a year, at the national convention and at a summer meeting, Pantzke said. They also have conference calls throughout the year.
“It really connects me to more opportunities and helps me to reach out to other people with what I believe in and helps me broaden my knowledge,” she said. “Conservation is important to everyone, including people living in urban areas. It really affects everyone.”
Pantzke’s family does a lot of hunting and fishing together and they own farmland they use for conservation work, she said.
Pantzke went through hunter safety when she was 12 years old. Before that, she went along with her parents and grandpa when they hunted.
“I like the time I get to spend outdoors, especially when you hunt in the evenings and you get to watch the sunset,” she said. “It’s just a really peaceful time. Even if you go out to simply watch wildlife, you can have wildlife come up near you, even in your tree stand. It’s a really great experience that I think more people should have.”
Pantzke has also attended various leadership camps, such as the National Rifle Association Youth Education Summit and the Safari Club International Foundation’s American Wilderness Leadership School, which she attended last year and is helping teach this year.
She’s working on starting a North Dakota state high school trap shooting league.
“Minnesota has one going that’s been very successful in their high schools and I’d like to see something similar for North Dakota as well,” she said.
Pantzke raced as a BMX biker from ages 9 to 15 and was nationally ranked. In her last year, 2012, she was nationally ranked first in her age group.
She liked racing and the traveling involved (she’s been to 38 states), but she gave it up, she said, to focus more on her schoolwork and efforts with Pheasants Forever.
Pantzke plans on eventually pursuing a career in the medical field.
Her Voice is a weekly article about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at email@example.com.