The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is a National Leader in Conservation Education thanks to your support – SCWA CEO Update – David Wielicki

Hunting and fishing activities are a very important part of my family heritage. My best memories are from times spent with family and friends in the outdoors hunting and fishing. This has been a major part of my quality of life and my relationship with God. I passed this on to my children who also share this passion. It is my desire and all of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) family to pass this on to the next generation.  

SCWA believes the key to successful recruitment programs is the development of a partnership with parents and guardians to provide their family with quality outdoor education and outdoor activity opportunities on a continuous basis. These actions will help them to develop hunting, fishing, shooting and other outdoor activities as a part of their family heritage and development. The culmination of these programs is the successful recruitment of youth and adults in to the conservation community.   

The SCWA school year Camp Leopold program introduces a broad spectrum of youth to the outdoors.  Many of these children have never spent time in nature. Camp Leopold opens their eyes to God’s creation and sparks an interest in the environment. Camp Leopold gives them a desire to learn more about habitat, fishing, hunting, shooting and wildlife ecology. 

Many of these children learn about Camp Woodie (SCWA’s Summer Camp) during their stay at Camp Leopold. A child can then attend Camp Woodie for up to 10 years to gain valuable outdoor skills. Their parents or guardians can attend a weekend SCWA Outdoor Heritage Event with their child to learn more about wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing, archery, dog training and shooting skills. They also learn about outdoor opportunities provided by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, The South Carolina Wildlife Partnership, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners. Campers who develop a desire to work in the conservation field can also attend our two year Gary Dietrich Wildlife Management Apprentice Program where they learn hands-on wildlife and fisheries management skills equipping them to make a large scale impact on habitat management. SCWA just received a $500,000 grant from the David Belk Cannon Foundation to endow two new apprentice positions bringing the total number of apprentices to 9. We are working to expand the program to 20. SCWA also assists in placing each graduate in a quality wildlife conservation job.

I believe SCWA has the best conservation education and outdoor recruitment program in the country. We are expanding our campus with new facilities and land that will allow us to increase annual Camp Woodie attendance from a record 1,237 this summer to 2,200 campers. .  Camp Leopold attendance will grow from 8,500 to 45,000 camper days and annual outdoor heritage event attendance will grow from 3,400 to over 7,000 participants.  

Since 2017, we have raised $11,426,000 in donations and pledges to fund our six year SCWA Wildlife Education Center Expansion goal of $13,681,000. We are developing a $20 million endowment to help fund program excellence and a team of education experts who in 5 years will develop a franchise model to help replicate the SCWA Wildlife Education Center.

This is my 35th year as the staff leader of SCWA. When people tell me that I have done a great job building SCWA’s programs, I am quick to respond that I am just the cheerleader. The real credit belongs to the thousands of donors, hundreds of chapter volunteers, an excellent Board of Directors and an incredible staff. I look forward to continuing to work with each of you to continue to achieve SCWA’s mission to Enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and habitat conservation. With your continued support, the sky is the limit!