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Cattaraugus County Trappers establish new scholarship to support conservationalists

Submitted Photo Members of the Trappers Association, from left to right: Front row: Bob Schmit, Kevin Parker, Rich Laczaryk, Paul Herman. Back row: Matt Spittler, Dale Kester, Brian Davis, Gary Dudek, David Allen, Chris Koch.

OLEAN — The Cattaraugus County Trappers Association recently established a new scholarship at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation that will support aspiring conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts in their educational pursuits.

One of the trappers association’s goals is to foster the next generation of outdoorsmen and women who harbor the trappers’ value in love of the outdoors and environment, said Brian Davis, Cattaraugus County Trappers Association treasurer.

“The Cattaraugus County Trappers’ Association strongly believes that educating the public, particularly our youth, is crucial to the survival of our sport,” Davis said. “We thought a scholarship program would be another great way to support youth that may be interested in going to college to pursue a degree in conservation.”

With funds raised from the association’s annual Sportsmen’s Rendezvous, the group established the Cattaraugus County Trappers Memorial Scholarship at CRCF, to provide two $500 scholarships initially to a graduating high school student in Cattaraugus, Allegany or Chautauqua counties who plans to pursue a degree in natural resources conservation, fish and wildlife management, forest management or similar area of study.

Applicants must include a list of outdoor sports in which they participate and a statement on the role of sportsmen in conservation and management of fish and wildlife and natural resources, and information on career path in their goal statement.

As much as trapping and the scholarship are about love of sport, trapping and outdoor sports can have an important impact.

“Many people don’t realize the role that hunting and trapping play in wildlife management,” Davis said. “Properly managed wildlife populations result in a healthy, balanced ecosystem, including the species that we pursue.

“For example, in some states where trapping was partially or totally banned, these states experienced higher incidents of wildlife damage in residential and agricultural areas, as well as spread of diseases such as rabies, distemper, and others,” he continued.

One basic example is that an unregulated beaver population can destroy valuable trees and block road culverts causing flooding in unwanted places, which can be very costly for landowners and governments.

Even more, the work of trappers, hunters and fishers is beneficial to the environment, Davis said.

“We feel that it is important for the public to realize that our fish and wildlife are renewable natural resources, just like forest products and many others,” Davis said. “If we do a good job of harvesting a sustainable population of furbearers and other wildlife, we can also provide sustainable raw materials for garments and other products and not depend as much on non-renewable materials that are derived from oil.”

With all of the important work that the trappers do in the wild, the organization saw the benefit of turning management of the scholarship over to CRCF, who manages some 80 scholarship funds for donors in the community.

“None of us in our club had any idea on how to start a scholarship, what was involved in getting it going, etc.,” Davis said. “The fact that your group pretty much does all of the legwork and management of our scholarship certainly alleviated the concerns that I had in what would be involved, how much effort it would take on our part.”

As important as it is to the trappers to encourage the future heads of their sport with this scholarship, they also wanted to honor the trappers of the past that encouraged the development of the sport, Davis said.

The association plans to offer the scholarship each year in memory of a different member who played an important role in the organization. This year’s award will memorialize Barry Andrews.

“This kind of scholarship is a unique but important opportunity for CRCF,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “Especially in a rural community like ours, the environment and the ecosystem are so important to our past, present and future, too.

“To be able to play any role in fostering a generation of young people who will go on to help care for our land and wildlife is an amazing and important thing.”

Donations can be made to the Cattaraugus County Trappers Association Memorial Scholarship at cattfoundation.org or 301 North Union St., Suite 203 in Olean.

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email foundation@cattfoundation.org, or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).

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