For a third year, Derby wildlife sculptor John Parsons has donated his work to raise funds for getting youth outdoors and creating wildlife habitat.
So far, sales of his special reproductions have lead to about $200,000 for Pass It On, a Wichita-based organization that helps organize and fund outdoors mentoring programs.
Another $225,000 has been raised for Pheasants Forever, a conservation group dedicated to improving wildlife habitat for everything from pheasants to butterflies.
"It's been a fantastic deal for us," said Mike Christensen, Pass It On coordinator. "As a not-for-profit we're always concerned about funding. We can help a lot of kids with that money."
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The Pass It On story began about eight years ago, when the program was started to help recruit more male mentors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sedgwick County.
Christensen said about 300 mentors and 1,500 kids in the Wichita area have participated in the Pass It On events. Events have ranged from deer and pheasant hunting to canoeing and birding.
In 2006, the Pass It On program splintered from the Sedgwick County chapter so Christensen could better meet requests from other areas. He has helped start and support Pass It On programs in about seven other states.
Funding has been an on-going problem. Christensen got the idea of special fund-raising art after seeing how well wildlife-related paintings sold at Ducks Unlimited and other conservation group banquets.
He'd met Parsons early in the program, when he asked for assistance in getting deer butchered at his Derby taxidermy shop and wild game processing facility.
After seeing some of Parsons' sculptures, he asked if he'd make something special for the program every year.
Time is tight for Parsons, who has won international recognition for his life-sized wildlife bronzes. Cabela's carries a line of his works.
"A lot of people talk about how we need to get young people outdoors, but Mike's the guy who does it," Parsons said. "He takes the time to put a firearm in their hand, teaches them how to use it and takes them in to the field and gets their heart pounding."
Parsons' sculptures for the project feature an adult, youth and a hunting scene.
The year's is "Pheasant Dreams," which shows a man, boy and hunting dog amid several flushing pheasants.
Parsons donates his time. Pass It On pays for production and Pheasants Forever auctions a replica at each of about 500 fund-raising banquets.
Youth program to give away hunts — Registrations are being taken for the Southwest Kansas Youth Hunting Program Aug. 7 at Scott Lake State Park.
Manuel Torres, event coordinator, said the event is free for kids 10-16.
As well as instructional classes on wingshooting, waterfowl calling and identification, archery, and dog handling, kids in attendance could win one of 24 guided hunts being offered.
Torres said the hunts include trips for waterfowl, predators or upland birds and are guided by Kansas volunteers.
Two guns are to be given away and all kids receive a cap, shirt and game call. The event is free, with much of the costs paid by Patternmaster chokes and Real Wing Decoys.
To register, call the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in Dodge City at 620-227-8609.