As winter draws to a close and the ice fishing season nears its end, volunteers of the Bremer Outdoors Team partnered up this past weekend with the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to get a group of kids out on the ice.
The trip is just one of the group's annual activities as
part of a broader effort to keep alive and thriving the sporting
traditions enjoyed by many in the state.
As explained on the
Bremer Outdoors Team site: "We are using this interest to create a bond
to enhance the lives of members as well as enhance our community. The
networking power of this group will help members in both their personal
and professional lives. In all, we will work as a team for the
betterment of our youth by introducing them to the outdoors."
"It started about seven years ago. We wanted to provide an outdoors
group here at the bank," said Brent Mattson, president at Bremer Bank.
original idea had been to promote sport networking, but since its start
has had "an overall focus on our youth. That's the future for hunting
and fishing," said Mattson, "getting kids involved. It's a good
experience, and hopefully something they can take forward."
and group co-founder Greg Gullickson, an outreach biologist with the
North Dakota Game and Fish Department, host televised segments for
KMOT-TV aired every other Monday during the network's evening news
broadcasts, as well as half-hour shows aired Sunday mornings. The series
highlights the various tips, tricks and safety concerns pertinent to
outdoor life in the region. Comedian and personality Jeff Foxworthy has
even promoted the programming, the success of which Mattson has
described as "surpassing what I expected. It keeps us somewhat busy."
March the group joins up with Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for its
weekend ice fishing trip, such as the one this last weekend. In addition
to providing the gear and expertise, Bremer Outdoors also donates hats
and coats to participating youths. This year the coats were provided by
the local Kmart and Wal-Mart locations. Kids and volunteers enjoy a
day-and-a-half on the ice fishing for perch and northerns, with food
brought in by snowmobile, lodging provided at a nearby resort, and
"Those kids had a ball, lots of fresh air and the outdoors," said Mattson.
group stays active year-round. Mid-May brings Bremer Outdoors' Project
Habitat, where kids construct a variety of things with materials precut
at the Dakota Boys Ranch. This year they will build stands for
birdbaths. A good turnout is expected, with up to 50 tables planned-for
with volunteers lined up to supervise.
"All you hear are hammers going crazy; it's pretty cool," Mattson chuckled.
Habitat also has volunteers from Souris Valley Bowmen and the Berthold
Sportsman Club help hold shooting events. The occasion is also a time to
give, with Bremer Outdoors donating $1,000 to a local parent-teacher
association and making "a sizable donation to a worthy organization,"
said Mattson, who explained that the group was still deciding who will
be this year's recipient.
In the first week of September, Bremer
Outdoors joins with at least a dozen outdoor groups from Minot and
Berthold for their Youth Outdoor Festival. Gullickson organizes the
event, held at the Game and Fish Park Outdoor Skills Center at the state
fairground. With tables set up for the different groups to showcase
themselves, food and drinks are provided as well as doorprizes that
include decoys, guns, rods, and other equipment.
In addition, "Greg and I take some less-fortunate kids out fishing," said Mattson.
"Kids that need a mentor," Gullickson adds.
find that the outdoor setting, the group activity, and the
role-modeling provide youths with a unique opportunity for personal
The Bremer Outdoors Team currently has about 250 members."You just need an account (at Bremer Bank) to be a member," Mattson explained. Members
get a team cap and are invited to its annual adult social functions. In
September the group reserves the Minot Gun Club, celebrating the
upcoming season with shooting, dinner, and an update on the group's
doings. "It's pretty festive out there," said Mattson.
February the downtown branch of Bremer Bank hosts an "antler brag,"
where hunters can bring in their season's trophies and converse with
other sportsmen over dinner.
"Holy smokes, but we get some monster bucks brought in there. It's a lot of fun," Mattson said. Bremer
Outdoors Team's next event will be this year's Project Habitat, on May
16. For more information on the group, its activities, and how to get
involved, visit its website at www.kmot.com/Bremeroutdoors.