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Helping Youth Learn About the Outdoors

James MacDonald of Cornelius, Oregon, has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for almost 10 years. He was recently named 2017 Mossy Oak ProStaffer of the Year for his philanthropy work and volunteerism. MacDonald enjoys hunting waterfowl, teaching others to hunt and training retrievers. 

youth learning about the outdoors

I became a Mossy Oak ProStaffer after training another member’s retriever. He asked if I’d like to join, I applied and I became a part of the Mossy Oak team. Besides training retrievers, I enjoy duck and goose hunting, being a baseball and softball coach and teaching automotive classes at the local high school. 

I was surprised and pleased to win the 2017 Mossy Oak ProStaffer of the Year title, because Mossy Oak has so many great people on its ProStaff, which has about 1000 members. Each ProStaff manager chooses one ProStaffer on their regional team to nominate for the award. About 25 people are nominated each year, and the folks at Mossy Oak then vote on who should receive the award. We are evaluated on how many days we volunteered to work with young people and conservation organizations, how many days we worked at retailers for Mossy Oak, and how many events we attended on behalf of Mossy Oak. 

I had 38-plus days in 2017 that I volunteered supporting organizations and retailers as a Mossy Oak representative. I participated in eight youth waterfowl hunts. 

Here in Oregon, we have a National Waterfowl Refuge that sets up special days for youth to hunt waterfowl there. In the application the young people fill out, there is a box to check if they’d like to have a guide help them by calling and teaching them how to shoot and how to be safe in a blind.  About three other hunters like myself work as guides for these young people. We not only call for them but also teach them how to call ducks and geese when they’re not shooting, and the birds are coming in slowly. I enjoy passing on the tradition of waterfowl hunting I was taught when I was their age. This is the third year I’ve helped with this program. 

I also help with high school students who have chosen to learn how to train a retriever as a senior project or learn how to call ducks. I help Boy Scouts, too, build duck blinds and put those blinds out on waterfowl refuges. I have a passion for helping young people learn about the outdoors.  

My two girls are 10 and 7, and they’re as active in helping young people enjoy the outdoors as I am. They brush up the blinds for the youth waterfowl hunts, they shoot in a competitive BB gun club, and they each have a retriever they’ve trained and compete with in hunt tests. My wife got an elk tag this year, and the girls have been hunting elk with my wife and me to try and fill that tag. 

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