---- — "Exploration is the essence of the human spirit."
Maybe you and your family members will head out on a nearby trail or maybe you'll choose to hike on the grand-daddy of them all: the Appalachian Trail? Whatever you do, please make sure to take a hike this Saturday, June 1. It's National Trails Day and to give you some idea of how big this event is, last year 157,000 people from 2,176 groups registered to be part of the annual celebration. For the 21st year, the first Saturday of June has been marked as National Trails Day. You certainly don't have to do anything formal to be part of the activities. However, if you wanted to join in on the fun, you may register your hike on the American Hiking Society's web site.
Speaking of hiking: Maybe joining with a group of experienced hikers might encourage you and your family members to head out on the trail? If so, this Saturday, National Trails Day that is, you can join with the local Sierra Club for an 11-mile moderate-to-strenuous hike of the Reeds Gap Spur, over in Mifflin County. The hike will be a celebration of National Trails Day and an in-the-field recognition of hiking a trail that was brought back from the brink of extinction by volunteer "maintainers" who are coordinated through the Keystone Trails Association's Trail Care Program. Please give Catherine McLaughlin and Ed Lawrence a call at 570-925-5285 for the details of the hike.
On Sunday, Joe Rebar (570-259-0134) will lead a 10-mile moderate hike in the R.B. Winter State Park.
Elk Foundation gives back: All of the revenue that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation makes from its auction of special big game permits through its national events and programs that it sponsors will be given back to the individual states. According to David Allen, who is president of the foundation, "We will not accept big game auction tags from any state for fund-raising purposes unless all of the revenue derived from it benefits wildlife. We consider this to be a much-needed investment in our wildlife resource and its management, habitat enhancement, and our hunting heritage. These funds will assist agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who are dealing with real budgetary challenges."
This is a fairly big deal. Recently, the foundation auctioned off a specially apportioned Arizona elk permit for $385,000 at its national convention.
Calling young artists: For its 20th year, the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art is conducting a Youth Art Contest. The deadline to enter the contest is June 17. This year's contest theme is "Wildlife of the World" and there are many categories for artwork submissions. Artists who are in first through 12th grades may enter artwork representing wildlife from anywhere that is depicted in its natural habitat. Please make sure that your entry is submitted with an official entry form that is downloadable from the center's web site: www.nedsmithcenter.org.
Can your club help?: Building on a decade of success, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is working to expand its Junior Pheasant Hunt Program and is looking for a few good sportsmen's clubs to help out. The demand created by the youngsters who want to participate in the Junior Pheasant Hunts is growing. This is a very good thing. So this year would be a great time for your club or other sportsmen's organization to jump in and be part of this upswing of interest among our next generation of ring neck hunters.
Last year, 26 events were filled with enthusiastic junior hunters and the Game Commission estimates that at least 3,000 more young hunters would take part if given the opportunity. Samantha Pedder of the Game Commission is standing by to assist your club in setting up an event or to answer any question that you might have about serving as a host. Please drop a line to her at email@example.com, or give her a call at 717-787-4250 extension 3327.