One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Everyone knows the story about that “one-horse institution” of a savings and loan that seemed to be the only island in a sea of Mr. Potter’s proverbial agenda of self-interest.
I’m kind of new as MWTHA members go only in since around 2008, but I’ve noticed that the large national pro-outdoors groups present in this fine state don’t always seem to have the pure best interest of Michigan’s conservation at heart. In the midst of all the wildlife groups that I have experienced I came to see MWTHA and it people as one of the many vital one horse institutions in this state. A place that people can go for answers, resource help, experience and accumulated knowledge that seems to be incredibly absent in the larger national groups. Don’t get me wrong there are more of these one horse institutions in groups that are founded purely in Michigan, for Michigan, by Michigan folks that deal with various fish species, black bear, waterfowl, game birds, hunting dogs, land preservation, river and lake preservation and trapping to name but a few. If only all those other larger national wildlife/conservation enterprises in this state conducted themselves and helped like these groups do. If only, indeed. I have come to realize what this state might become without these one horse institutions that watch over what the state is, and isn’t, doing for us all. And to those who were instrumental in founding these groups and to all who work hard in them I take my hat off to you and give you my thanks.
Sometimes, when people come up to visit our place from down state I get the biggest kick out of watching them when the see squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys, deer and other animals for the first time. Some have come to me and asked what are they? I have to smile a little as I gladly tell them about the animal of interest and its habits. But, it’s then when one realizes the distance that has happened between folks and the outdoors. Two years ago a group asked if I could show them around our property and “could you please label the various tree types.” You may laugh at this but they were quite serious and quite seriously I labeled the various tree types and was glad to do it. I explained that the Oaks had acorns, The Beechnut trees had a beechnut, Maples were where syrup came from, etc. They said they had a great time and I should open up to the public for tours. Tours of trees! You know I saved all those signs just in case.
I believe we who call ourselves stewards of the outdoors are all “one horse institutions” with a responsibility to future generations to foster interest and cultivate caring for the future of wildlife. It’s great if you can take kids hunting and fishing but if you can’t just get them outside and take a walk in the woods. My grandkids love looking for turkey feathers, collecting acorns, different colored leaves and rolling over logs looking for salamanders and worms; they are both boys so go figure. We just had a granddaughter join our family in August and I’m sure she will grow up to learn to love collecting wildflowers and turkey feathers if I have anything to do with it.