MI Chapter Leaders,
Hello all! I have recently been brought on as the new Pheasants Forever Regional Representative for the state of Michigan. I feel honored to be considered worthy to support the Michigan chapters in delivering mission for Pheasants Forever.
I wanted to send out a message to you all to introduce myself. Many of you may have seen this article on the PF Home website, and learned a little bit about me there. I am excited to meet you all in person sometime soon but until then, here is my story:
I spent the first half of my childhood in Plymouth, MI on 5 wooded acres with my parents and 8 siblings. With 9 kids, the house could get chaotic, so my parents often encouraged us to spend time playing outside. My 5 sisters, 3 brothers, and myself all became best friends in these woods, and we have only grown closer since. This property was where my oldest brother raised birds: pheasants, ducks, turkeys, and chickens. He was the self-proclaimed rancher but told 6-year-old Mel that she could oversee growing the gardens. I took this task very seriously. I fell in love with the outdoors at a very young age, always in awe of creation. I loved planting seeds and I remain amazed at the miracle of life each time a seed sends up a sprout. When I was 12, my family moved to a rural town in northern Indiana, just 2 miles south of the Michigan border. I was not thrilled about the move at the time, but soon came to find an appreciation for the slow pace of life in rural Indiana, which would eventually grant me more time in the great outdoors. I disapproved as my classmates cheered for the Hoosiers (Go Blue!) and after school, would often retreat to a small fishing boat or an ice shanty on Eagle Lake (Edwardsburg, MI) with my siblings. But Indiana grew on me: I taught my nieces how to grow their own gardens there, helped my nephews rescue many animals, and watched as Amish friends trained their ponies to pull wagons. I began to call Indiana my home, but was thrilled when my Michigan roots were unburied by summer vacations to northern Michigan. Eventually, my family would acquire some old family acreage on Torch Lake in Central Lake, MI. As I began high school, I loved learning, but was most fascinated by my science courses. I studied biology at a small liberal arts school in Michigan called Hillsdale College, where I was the director of a volunteer program, a member of the women’s golf club, a leader in my sorority, manager of the campus greenhouse, and member of the biology honorary. During summers, between working summer jobs, I would head to Torch Lake to roam the trails, identify plants, help my dad chop wood, and reconnect with my love of fishing.
During my senior year of college, I began hard charging my post-grad career search. I looked for organizations that would allow me to contribute to something greater than myself; to do work I was passionate about and get to be with people through it all. At the forefront of conservation efforts, I found Pheasants Forever. I was ecstatic to get an interview with Pheasants Forever, and quickly learned how relationship-oriented the organization was. The opportunity to work at Pheasants Forever came with the knowledge that this organization would allow my two utmost passions to marry: biology and people. Now, I am thrilled to be learning from some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. Colleagues who are intelligent and motivated but take the time to shoot me an email to welcome me to the Bird Club. I get to do my part to ensure that my great grandkids can grow their own gardens and hunt their own meat, all while enjoying the same beautiful world that I got to experience. And while doing that, I get to wake up early every day because I am excited to connect with the people who value the same things that I do. This past week, that has been my coworkers and superiors, but now that turns to you! I can't tell you enough how excited I am to begin to meet you all -- the people who make it happen. You all are truly there on the front lines, giving of your own time to deliver mission. And I can't wait to be your support.
While I am still learning how to be that support, I want to let you all know that I am eager to help in any way that I can. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, or to solicit my help with anything at all. I am available as a resource for you, both through email and by phone call. I would love if you could please include me in your individual chapter emails and share with me dates of your upcoming events, so that I might attend your meetings and get to know you all.
Melissa Weaver | Michigan Regional Representative
Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever