The Maine Veterans Project received a check for $10,000 from the Penobscot County Conservation Association.

The Maine Veterans Project received a check for $10,000 from the Penobscot County Conservation Association. (Penobscot County Conservation Association/Facebook)

With the worst of the COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, the Penobscot County Conservation Association has had a productive year.

Coming off the successful return in March of the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show after a three-year hiatus, the club has been building momentum with its efforts to promote and support many of the region’s outdoor-oriented organizations.

PCCA’s commitment to Maine conservation groups and projects has not gone unnoticed. On Saturday, the club received the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine President’s Award as the Fish and Game Club of the Year during the organization’s annual banquet in Augusta.

“It was a nice surprise,” said PCCA President Woody Higgins. “It makes you feel really good that you’re doing stuff that is recognized.”

Last week, the PCCA celebrated a tremendous fundraising performance with its Schoodic Lake Charity Bass Tournament, presenting a check for $10,000 to the Maine Veterans Project. It is among the largest single charitable donations made by the club in recent years.

The derby, the brainchild of PCCA member Rachel McMannus while she was a member of the Penquis Valley Key Club, celebrated its fifth year in style. PCCA has been running the tournament the last two summers.

McMannus spearheaded raffle ticket sales at the state’s three largest sportsmen’s shows, which generated some of the money, and the event enjoyed significant backing from companies.

“We had a pretty strong list of businesses that stepped up to donate anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars,” Higgins said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a fun event.”

The Maine Veterans Project, run by Navy veteran Shawn “Doc” Goodwin, aims to assist Veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues by providing them with recreation programs, heating oil assistance, a vehicle donation program, and meeting other needs.

“The first and foremost mission of Maine Veterans Project is suicide prevention,” Goodwin told PCCA members at a recent gathering.

“I personally believe that there is no more powerful tool out there to stop Veteran suicide than camaraderie,” he said, stressing the importance of MVP’s recreation programs.

PCCA, which each year hands out thousands of dollars in scholarships for more than 20 students in the University of Maine’s wildlife, fisheries and conservation biology programs, along with youth recreation organizations, has added another grant to its long list.

The organization will honor one of its most dedicated longtime members by starting another college scholarship in her name.

“Nancy Hatch has been our treasurer since 2002, but she also does the food program, the [building] rental program and buying the food, putting on the dinners, so she’s really heavily involved,” Higgins said.

With Hatch preparing to reduce her role with the club, PCCA has decided to honor her by providing a deserving Husson University conservation law student each year with a $1,000 scholarship.

“With Nancy as treasurer and the dedicated, skilled leadership of PCCA, we have been able to weather many storms and maintain both not only the club, but the outreach programs that are so important to our outdoor heritage, and ensuring our youth are engaged in the outdoors,” the PCCA said in honoring Hatch last week.

Higgins said he is pleased that the Penobscot County Conservation Association, which relies heavily on revenue from the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show to provide such a large number of scholarships, was able to hold the show this year and generate momentum for many of its other projects.

(c)2023 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

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