Pheasants Forever History
Fed up with wildlife habitat losses taking place, and spurred to action by a column from Dennis Anderson, Outdoor Editor at the Saint Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press and Dispatch, avid pheasant hunters and conservationists helped form Pheasants Forever in 1982. Since then, the organization has grown steadily and expanded its wildlife habitat conservation mission across much of the United States and parts of Canada.
- August 5, 1982 – Pheasants Forever incorporated.
The Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp was made official at the first-ever Pheasants Forever banquet and “Rooster Tales,” the first PF publication, was printed in 1983.
- February 1983 – “Rooster Tales,” PF’s first publication, urges the 500-member organization to push for passage of a Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp.
- April 15, 1983 – PF’s first banquet draws 800 supporters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to celebrate the passage of the Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp bill and raise money for the fledgling organization. Famed outdoor writer Jimmy Robinson and Twin Cities’ advertising magnate Robert Naegele, Sr. cut PF $1,000 checks, becoming the organization’s first Life Members.
- 1983 – The first Pheasants Forever chapter forms in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. Like all chapters that would follow, the chapter operates under a unique grassroots system of fundraising and project development that allows members to see the direct result of their contributions. Pheasants Forever empowers chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent.
- 1984 – The Iowa Pioneer Chapter forms in north central Iowa, becoming the first chapter outside of Minnesota.
- 1985 – Pheasants Forever has 12 chapters and 1,000 members.
- 1985 – The federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, is established. Pheasants Forever was instrumental in the creation of CRP, a land set-aside program that pays landowners to keep their most environmentally sensitive lands out of agriculture production. CRP lands improve pheasant populations, but are also responsible for improvements in water quality, soil erosion prevention, and the creation of critical habitat for a variety of other wildlife species.
- 1986 – Pheasants Forever’s headquarters move from Executive Director Jeff Finden’s basement to a small building in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
- 1986 – First Nebraska Pheasants Forever chapter was formed.
- 1987 – Pheasants Forever’s membership grows to over 25,000.
- 1990 – Pheasants Forever’s members grow to over 50,000.
- 1996 – Pheasants Forever’s Dave Nomsen, Vice President of Government Affairs, lends support of CRP in influencing the federal Farm Bill.
- 1999 – Pheasants Forever chapters complete over 25,000 wildlife habitat projects in year for first time.
- 2000 – Howard K. Vincent becomes PF’s second CEO, succeeding Jeff Finden.
- 2003 – Pheasants Forever’s first-ever National Pheasant Fest draws 12,500 attendees in Bloomington, Minnesota, to celebrate the organization’s 20th Anniversary.
- 2003 – Pheasants Forever begins employing Farm Bill Biologists. The positions are designed to educate farmers and landowners about the benefits of conservation programs, as well as assist those farmers and landowners after programs have been implemented.
- 2003 – Pheasants Forever launches its Build a Wildlife Area program as another way to conserve and restore wildlife habitat and create public hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities.
- 2005 – Pheasants Forever launches a quail division called Quail Forever. Dedicated to the protection and enhancement of quail, pheasant and other upland wildlife through habitat improvement, public awareness, education and advocacy for sound land management policy, Quail Forever (QF) uses the same unique grassroots system as PF, empowering chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent.
- 2008 – Pheasants Forever’s projects benefit more than 5 million acres of wildlife habitat across North America.
- 2008 – Nearly 30,000 attendees turn out to celebrate Pheasants Forever’s 25th Anniversary at National Pheasant Fest 2008 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
- 2008 – Pheasants Forever helps establish a CRP practice designed specifically for wildlife. Designated Conservation Practice 38 but better known as the State Acres For wildlife Enhancement Program (SAFE), the practice allows states to cater CRP practices to species in greatest conservation need.
- Today – Pheasants Forever has over 145,000 members in over 740 chapters in the U.S. and Canada