By Brook Minx, SCIF President
SCI Foundation is well-known for being the most active hunter-led wildlife conservation movement around. Education around conservation is just as essential as performing the actual work on the ground. but a lesser-known priority at SCI Foundation is Humanitarian Service. I’ve heard some say it’s an area that doesn’t align with our mission, and I want to address both why we prioritize it and what we’re doing with it.
If you’ve paid any attention at all to our wildlife conservation messaging, you know we stand strongly in support of community-based management of wildlife and natural resources. Community benefits are essential to global wildlife conservation success.
To provide a simple example: you’ve likely seen stories of watermelon farmers in Africa poisoning an entire herd of elephants just so they can grow their watermelons without destruction and turn a profit from their farm. When hunting is introduced to that community, the watermelon farmer is still in charge of farming watermelons, but now he encourages elephants to thrive in the area because he knows a hunter will pay to hunt a single elephant. Part of that money goes to the farmer and their community, and the rest of the elephant herd continues to repopulate. This is an example of a community benefit. Because of hunting, the community benefits.
Without hunting, wildlife is sometimes less tolerable to the communities that live with them. This principle can be applied all over the globe, and these benefits can express themselves in various ways. Community benefit is the reason SCI Foundation is involved in Humanitarian Service, not only because it feels good to spread good fortune, but also because it makes different communities more understanding and appreciative of hunting when they see a direct benefit from having hunters on their land.
SCI Foundation has five primary humanitarian vehicles for different communities around the world:
1) BELL FAMILY BLUE BAGS. SCI Foundation donors cover the globe every year in their hunting pursuits. Named after the late Amy Bell, this program exists to remind people to “pay it forward” especially when hunting in remote areas, as Amy Bell always exemplified. It’s as simple as requesting a duffel bag from SCIF when you’re going on your hunt. Typically, hunters will work with their outfitter to ask what supplies are needed, and these bags are often filled with medical supplies, education supplies, clothing and toys.
2) PATHFINDER AWARD, HUNT. Pathfinders are those who due to a major life-changing experience must create a new path in life. It’s an unfortunate reality, but we receive more requests to sponsor disabled hunters each year than we would ever be able to fulfill. Pathfinder exists to allow all disabled hunters to submit their application, and then a large committee votes and honors one recipient as we share their story with all. Along with the award each lucky recipient is honored with a special hunt.
3) PATHFINDER – YOUTH HUNT. We also accept applications for youth Pathfinders and select one to award a special hunt each year. Telling their stories helps to inspire many others each year who are faced with life-altering realities.
4) SPORTSMEN AGAINST HUNGER. Since the program’s inception in 1989, SCI Chapter members have organized community and statewide systems designed to help hunters annually share a portion of their wild game harvest with hungry people. This generosity provides millions of low-fat, low-cholesterol, preservative-free, high-protein meals annually at soup kitchens across the United States.
5) VETERANS HUNTS. SCI Foundation is dedicated to honoring those who give their blood, sweat and lives in the service of their country. We have established a Veterans Committee for Humanitarian Services to oversee assisting veterans in local communities.
OUR GLOBAL MISSION
SCI Foundation has a global mission. The widespread effect we’re able to have with humanitarian service is largely a result of an active chapter network from local SCI Chapters. Properly executing on humanitarian service is a valuable way to make the true heart of hunters known with these unique community benefits. We thank you all who help to make these programs possible, because of the impact they have on our larger mission of promoting hunting to help ensure the future of wildlife.