Youth Field Trial Alliance ~ Media
Inspired by an insurgence of interest by field trialers and clubs across the country to host trials for junior handlers, Strideaway launched a Facebook page this past summer called Youth Field Trial Alliance whose purpose is to promote field trials, stakes and training days specifically for kids in the US and Canada. Giving individuals and clubs a specific place on social media to announce their events and post results and photos will hopefully inspire more field trial clubs to host events. It also connects individuals who may have questions about the best way to conduct youth trials. The page has gained about 800 followers in just a few months.
There certainly are field trialers with plenty of experience conducting youth trials. Most active have been several clubs in Alabama who have been hosting youth field trials for about 35 years. Run under gundog standards for junior handlers under the age of 18, the Alabama clubs award an annual Youth Handler of the Year college scholarship of $1,000 as well as a Runner-Up trophy. Several Georgia clubs have followed suite this year offering a slate of youth stakes recognized by the Dixie Trace Field Trial Association that will also be awarding a college scholarship to the winningest handler at their June annual meeting. The Field Trial Clubs of Illinois have hosted youth stakes in conjunction with their weekend trials for many years. How clubs conduct their youth trials and stakes differs based on many factors. What’s most important is getting kids involved in our sport in whatever ways clubs can best manage to do it as part of their field trial program.
The last several years has given rise to organizations around the country whose primary aim is to get kids outside and off their cellular devices — texting, playing games and/or glued to social media. The concerns — physical, mental, and social for kids lacking opportunities to spend time outdoors are based on well-founded evidence. Kids can fare better in more rural parts of the country and we would do well to encourage them by offering as many opportunities as possible including the participation in our field trial sport.
Field trialing offers these and many more benefits to kids:
• Promotes physical and mental health and well-being by having kids active and outdoors — and off their digital devices!
• Teaches responsibility through caring for and working with animals.
• Instills confidence and healthy competition while fostering real life social skills — friendship, cooperation and sharing.
• Promotes a lifelong love of the outdoors, dogs, horses and wildlife.
• Engages young people in local community activities and builds their understanding and appreciation of longtime traditions.
• Nurtures interest, support and involvement in wildlife conservation.
On November 8th, four junior field trial handlers who competed in this past spring’s Georgia/Florida Field Trial Association’s Youth Field Trial handled their dogs in the Pointing Dog Demo at the 4th Annual Kevin’s and Holland & Holland Southern Game Fair at the Greenwood Plantation Campus in Thomasville, GA. The kids did a fantastic job, demonstrating their handling skills for a big audience of enthusiastic onlookers. After the demo, the handlers were presented with gift bags of bird dog/field trial related items purchased with generous donations from field trialers, as well as Purina, the American Field, AFTCA, Kevin’s and other local vendors. Other field trailers and organizations made financial donations and commitments towards the development of a website for Youth Field Trial Alliance which will help us further promote youth field trials across the country.
On Facebook, find us at Youth Field Trial Alliance. Please like, share and follow the page to find out where Youth Field Trials are held and to keep track of how our movement grows and how you can help and be involved.
Published in the 2019 Christmas edition of the American Field