Despite what we study in school, history does not manifest in the form of exact dates and events. History is inherently “messy.”
We celebrate Independence Day July 4th of each year. That was the date affixed to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. We know that in fact, not all of the representatives attended the day of that particular meeting. It took several days to get the remaining signatures. We also know that years of events led up to this declaration to disassociate from English rule and establish a new country. It didn’t all happen at one meeting in one day.
Just in the same way our country was years in the making, the MHHF clinic model was actually practiced years before our official charter was developed. The Federation's founding fathers and members were conducting clinics as early as 2006 - well before the first official meeting.
That first official meeting took place Sunday December 16th, 2007 at the Pleasant Hill VFW Hall. Attending were Jake Jacoby, David Rush, Mike Mansell, John Durbin, the late Allan Hoover and myself. A rough draft of the Constitution and By-Laws were presented, membership designations and dues were determined, the Executive Director was appointed, officers and directors were elected and the date for the next Board meeting was set. Other discussion involved a date for a Spring Hunter Education Clinic and involvement in two events with outdoor organizations for the purpose of promotion. On that grey afternoon, we set out to create an organization we hoped would grow to become a Federation of chapters composed of volunteers eager to share their knowledge and joy of spending time in Missouri’s outdoors - not as observers but as participants, connecting with the natural world.
As we fly by this annual milestone date of the meeting, I think back on that grey afternoon, and reflect on all we hoped to accomplish. We really weren’t sure how we were going to get there, but had a clear destination in mind. We approached the creation of this organization as carefully as we could, trying not to take turns we would later have to correct, believing and behaving as if this was really going to happen so we could look back some day and say, “We really did this and we did it right.”
We haven’t grown nearly as fast as we had all hoped. We didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be for families involved in sports and other activities to make time to participate in a weekend clinic. And the economy of 2008 made it a challenge to fund a new non-profit organization. Even with those types of headwinds, we discovered that many other people and organizations shared our aspiration and wanted to support us. Many contributing far more than we could have dreamed – both financially and with their gift of time. That collective passion continues today. Numerous parents of clinic participants have joined us as volunteers and there are more on the way. Other parents have returned with a second and sometimes third son or daughter or niece or nephew to participate in our clinics again. We have attracted directors with expertise and resources we didn’t know existed.
And then there are the more than 400 families who praise and encourage us to a degree and in ways we did not anticipate.
During this season of reflection and thanks, I again express my sincere appreciation to all of you for supporting the Mission of MHHF. I especially want to thank our Executive Director, Susan Williams and our Board of Directors who over the past several years have done a tremendous job in raising awareness of MHHF and setting us on a course for future success.
As we begin our eleventh year Introducing Youth to Hunting, we will continue to make expansion a top priority while maintaining the integrity of our clinic model which has served very well. More details on how we plan to do this will be in next month’s update. This update will also include nominees for the Board and instructions on how to vote electronically. If you, or someone you know, are interested in serving on the Board, please contact me or Susan.
Our annual Membership Meeting will take place March 18th, 2017at the Lake Lotawana Sportsman’s Club.