Habitat & Conservation  |  02/05/2024

National Volunteer of the Year Award Finalist: David Snipes


 "Bringing back the Whistle" in South Carolina

This year, for the first time, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will recognize a national “Volunteer of the Year.”

The award celebrates the very best the organization has to offer — the members and volunteers who optimize the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever mission, who seek to protect and grow our wildlife habitat, and who help ensure our heritage continues for generations to come. 

We have chosen eight finalists (Four Pheasants Forever and four Quail Forever) for the award. The winner will be announced at the upcoming National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, which runs March 1-3 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

“Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are dynamic conservation organizations, fueled by the dedication of volunteers,” said Tom Fuller, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s vice president of chapter and volunteer services. “The Volunteer of the Year award seeks to honor individuals who have made a profound impact on our mission. Our volunteer network is a vibrant community of passion and talent. This annual award is a celebration of the remarkable accomplishments of these volunteers, and is intended to inspire others to join the movement for upland conservation.”

Over the course of the next four weeks we’ll get to know each finalist, and celebrate their accomplishments in the world of habitat conservation. The next volunteer we’ll highlight is David Snipes, from the Low Country Chapter of Quail Forever in South Carolina. 

Let’s start by just telling us a little more about yourself. Your history with bird hunting and conservation, how long you’ve been a member of Pheasants Forever, etc

I grew up in Anderson SC, but my grandparents, aunts/uncles had a farm in Townville.  As long as I can remember I was chasing animals with a BB gun, a .22 or a shotgun.  I started with squirrels, and quickly moved to ducks, doves and deer. While at Clemson I went quail hunting with some friends, and fell in love. I’ve been personally working on trying to bring back bobwhites to my wife’s family farm for over a decade and have been a member of Quail Forever for a couple of years.  

What initially spurred you to get involved with your local chapter? 

I got involved with Quail Forever when a client of mine asked me to come to an event. Later that year I started volunteering and then was asked to take over the chapter a short time later.  

Talk about the work you and your chapter have been doing over the course of the last year. 

In the last year our chapter has been focusing on the new BAWA area “Bobwhite Hills” in South Carolina.  We’ve helped with whistle counts, covey counts, flagging, fire breaks and improving roads. We’ve partnered with private companies to conduct burns, improve old fire breaks and have applied chemicals via drone to control unwanted sweetgums. We’ve also help fund some satellite tags that will help with a study one of our wildlife biologists will be doing on the Indian Creek focal area.  

There are nearly 140,000 Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members, and eight total finalists for Volunteer of the Year. What does it mean to be nominated for this award? 

I’m honored to be nominated for volunteer of the year, but this is truly a team effort.  I’m lucky to have a great relationships with our state chair and regional representative, and would be lost without their guidance.

One of the most profound aspects of volunteering for Pheasants Forever is you can see and touch the work. It’s not abstract, or done in some far away place. When you accomplish a habitat project, you can stand in the dirt and witness the progress firsthand. Same is true for outreach — you get to see new people discover the world of conservation or watch a bird dog work for the very first time. What’s it feel like to sit back and watch your work come to fruition?

Getting to see the work at Bobwhite Hills has been very rewarding, but getting to see friends invest their time has been just as important. The way many of my friends have stepped up and become a part of this has been amazing. It's been lots of fun to share the progress we’ve made with them and show them what our fundraising has been able to accomplish so far.  We’re only just getting started and I firmly believe 2024 will be an even better year.

“Bring back the whistle”