Two win Izaak Walton league awards

July 22, 1999|By ERIN HEATH

When Steve Palmer was a teenager growing up in Keedysville, he almost was shot twice while hunting.

About 30 years later, Steve and his wife, Celia, started a youth education program to help young people avoid the kinds of near-misses he experienced as a young hunter.

Last week, the Keedysville residents were rewarded for their commitment to teaching people about outdoor sports and the environment with one of three Conservation Awards from the Izaak Walton League of America, a national conservation organization.

Paul Wolber, state representative for the Washington County chapter of the Izaak Walton League nominated members Steve and Celia Palmer for the national award.


"Both have made outstanding contributions in the form of personal involvement and financial support," Wolber said.

Palmer, who said he "grew up running through the woods barefoot," started hunting and fishing at an early age, but after his two hunting accidents he gave up outdoor sports.

It was Celia Palmer who convinced him to give his old pastimes another try. She started hunting in 1990 after watching some friends hunt at a camp in Pennsylvania. Four years later, Palmer joined his wife on a hunting trip and developed a new appreciation for outdoor sports. But he hasn't been able to break his wife's record.

"She is actually the one who killed the biggest deer in this family - a 10-point, 200-pound buck," he said.

After they joined the Izaak Walton League in 1994, the Palmers became more active in outdoor sports. Steve Palmer helped found the Maryland Sportsmen's Association in 1998 and is now its vice president.

That same year he became president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. Through that organization, the two started the Youth Fishing and Hunting Program, which is now a year old.

Since the program began, the Palmers have provided free instruction and equipment to teach more than 300 youngsters ages 6 to 16 about hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

The Palmers started the program because they wanted to give children and their families a chance to learn about outdoor sports.

"It shows them that there's more to do than just sit in front of the TV and play video games," Celia Palmer said.

In addition, they said they feel that teaching youth about hunting and gun safety can reduce violence among youth.

"It teaches them the realities of firearms responsibility," Steve said. "A gun is not a toy. Pretending that firearms don't exist isn't going to teach them that."

Lately the Palmers have been planning their next activity: A two-day Fishing, Hunting and Outdoor Sports Expo that will take place Sept. 25-26 at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

Proceeds from the event will fund projects to promote outdoor sports to youth.

The Palmers also own their own businesses: She has an electrical supply company and he sells hunting gear.

While they said they were "very honored" to receive the Conservation Award, the Palmers said they couldn't have done it alone.

"None of this would have happened without the volunteers who helped us with our programs," Steve Palmer said.

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