Local News

Wildlife Commission announces 2022 Small Game Award winners

19 individual winnerOfficials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently awarded the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award to both an individual and organization whose actions have significantly and positively impacted North Carolina’s small game populations and the hunting heritage associated with small game.

Kathryn Rand Booher of Rocky Point and the Wake County Wildlife Club were the two recipients honored with the 2022 award.

Booher’s actions and financial support have contributed to bobwhite quail conservation, including habitat improvements, greater public access, education and advocacy. She is a strong financial supporter and active volunteer of the Southeast North Carolina Chapter of Quail Forever and the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative. She’s the liaison between the SENC and the Wildlife Commission, and with her assistance the agency created 7,000 acres of “Quail Trails” on Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County. The trails have improved access to and the management of early succession habitat, which has enhanced small game hunting opportunities and benefited many non-game species.

Booher has overseen efforts to manage a longleaf pine forest through thinning and prescribed burns on over 340 acres of her family’s land. The direct impact of this work has improved both the habitat and the quail population. Leading by example, she has encouraged other private landowners to effectively manage their own property to enhance habitat for bobwhite quail.

G.W. Atkinson, Heather Hill and Jim Hudson of the Wake County Wildlife Club accepted the award on behalf of their 165 members who have worked tirelessly for decades to promote wildlife conservation. As a leader in conservation education, the WCWC has impacted young people who have gone on to pursue careers in the wildlife field and created conservationists with an appreciation for the natural world by highlighting the critical role that sportsmen and women play in the conservation of our wildlife resources.

Best known for hosting the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh, the club’s impacts reach well beyond the annual big game event. Specifically, the club hosts countless workshops aimed at hunter safety, wildlife-associated recreation, education and diversity in hunting. The WCWC is also the primary non-governmental supporter of the Fur, Fish and Game Rendezvous held each year at Millstone 4-H Camp in Ellerbe. The club offers scholarships to send teenagers to this unique weeklong camp. Since 2014, they have sponsored 30 campers each summer.19 organization winner

In addition to monetary support, club members volunteer as instructors to make this camp a success. The club’s efforts provide opportunities for many young adults to attend camp who otherwise may not be exposed to fishing, hunting and shooting sports.

In 2020, club officials updated the forest management plan for their 191-acre Durham County property to include commercial thinning, pre-commercial thinning and prescribed burning. These initiatives will better educate visitors about the importance of habitat management and will also improve habitat for small game on the property.

The Small Game Award is named in honor of Lawrence G. Diedrick of Rocky Mount, who served as a Wildlife Commissioner from 1993-2001. Commissioner Diedrick promoted efforts to address declining populations of bobwhites, and other species dependent on early successional habitat. Subsequent to his death in September 2002, a group of Commissioner Diedrick's friends made memorial contributions to the Wildlife Endowment Fund to support an annual small game award in his honor. The Wildlife Commission created this prestigious award in 2003. Nominations for the 2023 award will open March 1, 2023.

Editor’s note: Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Wildlife Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.
To purchase or renew a fishing, trapping or hunting license and renew a vessel registration, go online at www.ncwildlife.org. 


Tips help student-athletes prepare for winter sports season

18Winter sports season is wildly popular. Sports such as basketball, hockey, swimming and track and field attract talented student-athletes each winter, making the season one of the most fun times of year for kids, their families and their classmates.

During the winter sports season, student-athletes can take various steps to ensure they’re ready to compete.

Ensure your academics are in order. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average to be eligible to compete. The winter sports season tends to overlap semesters in many school districts, so students preparing for the coming season must make sure their grades are good enough to allow them to compete, even if their sport begins mid- to late-semester. Students can work with teachers, coaches and academic advisors to ensure their grades won’t compromise their eligibility.

Schedule your physical. A preseason physical exam is mandatory to compete in may scholastic sports, so student-athletes or their parents should schedule their exams early so they can compete for a spot on the team and, if they make the team, play once the season begins. Physical exams also can shed light on any issues that may require medical treatment prior to the start of the season, so the earlier students get their exams, the more quickly they can address any issues that may compromise their ability to compete.

Speak with the coaching staff. Coaches may or may not conduct exit interviews upon the completion of a season. Such interviews can be a great chance for student-athletes to learn about what they can do to improve during the offseason. Student-athletes who didn’t get an exit interview or those who simply want a refresher can contact their coaches in advance of the season to discuss what they need to do to make the team and/or improve on last season’s performance.

Get in shape. Multi-sport athletes may already be in shape to compete, which can ensure the transition from fall to winter sports season goes smoothly. Student-athletes who don’t compete in fall sports can use fall as a time to get back in game shape. Start gradually to reduce your risk of injury, ramping up as the body reacclimates itself to physical activity.

Winter sports season is a fun time of year for student-athletes. Preparing before the season begins can ensure student-athletes compete at their highest level in the months ahead.

MLK Dream Jam: 3rd Annual Basketball Tournament hosts Public vs. Private School showdown on the court

insert 2Talented public and private high school players across Cumberland County are gearing up to go head to head at the 3rd Annual MLK Dream Jam Basketball Tournament on Jan. 14 and 16. The tournament will again be hosted by Terry Sanford High School.

Karl Molnar is the Head Coach of the Varsity Boys team at Terry Sanford, and organizer of the MLK Dream Jam. When asked about last years Dream Jam, he says, “It went very well! Both have been very successful and the turnouts are always good. The competition level is amazing, which is kind of why we started the tournament, because there’s so much talent right here in Cumberland County and it’s kind of spread out between the public and private schools.”

Twenty teams will participate in this year's tournament. Eight girls teams will challenge each other on Saturday, Jan. 14, and 12 boys teams will compete against each other on Monday, Jan. 16.
Cumberland County is special when it comes to how connected our communities are with each other. Talent intertwines here in Fayetteville, and Molnar enjoys getting the kids together in the gym, knowing they’re together already outside of it.

“They all grow up in the same neighborhoods with each other. We don’t get to have public and private schools play throughout the season too often, so it makes for a good event to play your buddy on the other team.”

Up & Coming Weekly got a chance to interview some of Molnar’s top Varsity players during a Tuesday morning practice, during the school's Christmas break.
One player in particular, Brady Barns Jr., returned to Terry Sanford this past fall semester as a Junior, with hopes of rebuilding with his friends and returning to what makes basketball fun again.

Brady says, “I had a good opportunity to play with a big AAU team in Jersey for a couple of years, but I never really got to play with my friends, so I wanted to come back to fill the pieces and be with them.”
Brady continues,” I remember after I came back from Jersey, I came to our first couple of tournaments. I knew everybody, I played with them growing up, I’ve trained with them. We all worked out together.”

When it comes to girls basketball, coaches and players agree there could be a lot more attention placed on these young ladies. The numbers for younger girl players around the city are low, and less girls games are being played this tournament.

Miya Giles-Jones, a Senior on the Varsity girls team at Terry Sanford, and one of the top players overall in the state, is hopeful for the young talent in the city, and even feels like the girls games are more exciting to watch.

“There should be a way bigger spotlight on the girls, there’s a lot of young talent out here that a lot of people don’t know about. You have to come out and see it for yourself. If you have a good team and good talent, it’s always fun to watch, we should get the same respect as the boys.” Miya says.insert 1

When talking to Roger Paschall, Head Coach of the Varsity girls team at Terry Sanford, he feels that more events focused on girls basketball would help grow the girl basketball scene in the city.

“We played in a showcase in the beginning of the year [2022], but it was teams from all over the country,” Paschall said. “If we can do some individual girl showcases locally, that would be great. It’s important for late elementary and early middle school girls, to come see teams like ours play, and be exposed to this kind of talent”.

With the Terry Sanford girls team winning the Winter Classic, and their sights set on the state championship, they hope to use the Dream Jam as a stepping stone to grow stronger as a team and show how much more they can achieve.

“North Carolina is considered a hoop state,” Molnar said. Fayetteville itself, is home to a lot of great basketball talent; the two most notable being Dennis Smith Jr., and J. Cole. Smith, who played for Trinity

Christian, a private school in Fayetteville, now plays in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets.
J. Cole, who played for Terry Sanford, public school and home of the Dream Jam, the rap artist, never gave up on his hoop dreams after college and recently played in the BAL for the Rwanda Patriots and for the CEBL Scarborough Shooting Stars.

With a couple of Fayetteville’s biggest stars being from a private and public school, Up & Coming Weekly wanted to see how the players used that as inspiration.

A Junior on the Varsity boys team, Johnathan Higgins-Simmons says, “They both showed that there are different ways you can make it out the city. With Cole, he grinded, and put the work in on and off the court. If they can take that motivation for being a dog on and off the court, they can achieve their dreams.”

Organizers agree that, from the coaches to the players, everyone is looking to the MLK Dream Jam to bring the community together and give the proper exposure to all the young talent that Cumberland County has to offer.

Carlos Craig, a Senior at Terry Sanford says, “This tournament is showing that public and private schools can keep up with each other. It’s not about one being better than another, it’s all good competition.”

The 3rd Annual MLK Dream Jam will be held at the Terry Sanford Gymnasium. For those planning to attend, tickets can be purchased at the door.

Doors open on Saturday at 10 a.m. and tickets are $10 for the day. Monday’s match ups start at 8:15 a.m. and are $12 for the day. Four games are scheduled for Saturday and six games are scheduled for Monday.

Miller’s Crew food truck, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop and other vendors will be on site to provide food and refreshments.

A time to remember notable moments in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

12Few individuals in American history have made an impact as sizable as Martin Luther

King Jr. King wore many hats throughout his tragically short life, from minister to activist to scholar, leaving behind a legacy that is worthy
of celebration.

Though King was assassinated before he even reached his fortieth birthday, his life was filled with many notable events. Many of those events positively affected, and continue to affect, the lives of millions of others.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University notes that the following are some of the major events of King’s life.

January 15, 1929: Now commemorated annually as Martin Luther King Jr. Day (in 2023, the holiday is observed on Monday, January 16), January 15 marks the day King was born in 1929. King was born in Atlanta, where his father was a pastor at the Ebenezer Church.

September 20, 1944: Despite being only 15 years old, King begins his freshman year at Morehouse College. King was only a high school junior in 1944, but he was admitted to Morehouse College, where his father studied for his ministerial degree, after passing the school’s entrance exam.

August 6, 1946: King’s letter to the editor of The Atlanta Constitution is published. The letter reflects King’s belief that Black Americans are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as White Americans. King’s father later admitted this letter was the first time he and his wife recognized their son’s “developing greatness.”

February 25, 1948: Following in his father’s footsteps, King is ordained and appointed assistant pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in his hometown of Atlanta. June 8, 1948: King earns his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Morehouse College.

May 6-8, 1951: King graduates from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. He delivers the valedictory address during the graduation ceremony.

June 18, 1953: King marries Coretta Scott near the bride’s family home in Marion, Alabama. Coretta Scott King would also become a vocal activist, advocating for peace and gay rights and expressing her opposition to apartheid in the 1980s. She would not remarry after her husband’s assassination.

June 5, 1955: King earns his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University. 12a

December 5, 1955: King becomes president of the Montgomery Improvement Association after the organization is formed at the Holt Street Baptist Church. MIA is formed in response to the arrest of Rosa Parks five days earlier after she refused to vacate her seat for a white passenger.

January 27, 1956: A threatening phone call late in the evening inspires King to carry on with his activism.

January 30, 1956: King’s home is bombed while he is elsewhere delivering a speech. His wife and daughter are not injured in the blast.

January 10-11, 1957: King is named chairman of what becomes the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was an organization of southern black ministers working together to combat segregation.

June 23, 1958: King and other leaders meet with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C.

September 17, 1958: Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story is published. It is King’s first book.

September 20, 1958: King survives a stabbing during a book signing in Harlem, New York. During a surgery after the stabbing, doctors remove a seven-inch letter opener from King’s chest.

April 16, 1963: King writes his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in response to criticisms of the Birmingham Campaign, a collective effort on the part of the SCLC and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) to combat segregation in the Alabama city. The letter becomes one of King’s most famous writings.

August 28, 1963: King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

January 3, 1964: King is named “Man of the Year” by Time magazine.

December 10, 1964: King receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

March 17-25, 1965: King helps to lead civil rights marchers from Selma to Montgomery.

June 7, 1966: King and other leaders resume James Meredith’s “March Against Fear” from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi. Meredith
was unable to continue after he was shot and wounded.

April 3, 1968: King delivers his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” as he returns to Memphis to lead a peaceful march of striking sanitation workers.

April 4, 1968: King is shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. He is buried in Atlanta five days later.


Veterans Farming Program offers free training

11aWhitaker Small Farm Group, Inc. is seeking veterans and their dependants interested in learning how to grow and maintain edible and inedible plants.

The 18-month program aims to help soldiers transition from the military world to a lush environment of green lawns, healthy gardens, thriving houseplants and tasty produce.
Initiated in the fall of 2021 by Charles Whitaker, President and C.E.O. of Whitaker Small Farm Group, Inc, the Veteran Farming Program offers military personnel and their spouses an opportunity to learn a new trade, subsidize their income and grow a healthy respect for the care and maintenance of their yards.

WSFG, Inc., which has historically invested its time and resources in supporting emerging farmers and those socially disadvantaged, developed this program — their first aimed specifically at veterans — as a step toward creating opportunities otherwise unavailable to this population.

Whitaker, who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than 30 years, knows the value of being able to work the land and is committed to creating no-cost access to the skills that enrich lives and grow communities.

"Many times veterans exit the military, and they aren't quite sure as to what they'll do with their futures," Whitaker shared. "This project offers them another window to look through."

Up & Coming Weekly also spoke with Nancy Olsen, Air Force veteran and chief instructor of the program, about the desired outcomes for the project and the importance of horticulture.

Horticulture, an aspect of agriculture, involves the small-scale maintenance and production of both edible and inedible plants. It can cover the cucumbers that just won’t grow in the backyard or the Peace Lily that refuses to thrive. Horticulture, as a practice, can be a relaxing way to pass the time, or integral to putting food on the table.

“This kind of program is important for anyone with a yard or even a houseplant,” she said. “I teach people how to grow different types of plants and how to make them grow correctly to the best of the plant's ability.”
Raised on a 4000-acre farm-ranch in Kansas, Olsen has farming and horticulture in her blood. Her father, a farmer, and her mother, a homemaker, taught her how to treat the earth with respect and patience in order to reap the benefits of its bounty.11

“I guess growing up on a farm, I found a love for the land at a young age,” she shared. “When I was just a kid, I had a huge garden, and that was my first job. My mother would buy me all the seeds, use what she needed to feed the family, and I got to sell everything else. I was maybe nine or ten, and I’d haul my wagon and sell whatever was growing to the little ladies in town.”

The pride that comes from being able to grow food to eat or food to sell is a feeling Olsen hopes to offer those who participate in the program. Though she left that Kansas ranch long ago, the lessons learned there have fueled a life-long passion and a career. Olsen, who has both a bachelor's and a master's degree in horticulture, has shared her knowledge and experience with students at North Carolina State University and Sampson Community College. She has a great deal more knowledge to share.

The grant-funded Veteran Farming Program is free for participants; still, it offers valuable information, hands-on experience, and useful tips from an industry insider. Even for those not interested or unsure about their fitness for farming, the program also exists for those who just want a nicer lawn — a cause for which Olsen is in full support.

“To me, everyone should have a nice yard,” she offered. “It’s just something nice to go out and enjoy. Most people abuse their yards and land — I want people to appreciate and work at having nice plants around their houses. I want to share how to get the most out of their yard, no matter how much or how little they have.”

While “Best Yard on the Block” is a noble pursuit, the project does offer other incentives for those a bit more serious about a life or career in horticulture. The program is split into three six-month sessions, with six monthly class meetings. Each class typically lasts around four hours and focuses on agricultural technology, theory and food production.
Participants are given a travel allowance to get to and from training and a small amount for expenses. Additionally, students can use the skills and knowledge gained toward work-experience credit when applying for an F.S.A. (Farm Service Agency) loan.

For V. Williams and his wife, the program has been invaluable, particularly during this time of continued inflation which has seen over a 10% increase in produce in the past year. With a garden full of collards, eggplants, tomatoes, and other tasty vegetables — he had nothing but good things to say about the program.

“I retired with disabilities, and I signed up for something to do to get out of the house,” he said. “I wanted to start growing my own vegetables instead of relying on the grocery store.”

“The class gives a lot of information about the plants themselves, and once you know the basics, it's easy. During this last growing season, we grew about $13,000 worth of produce. It can be hard work — but the confidence it gives you goes a long way.”

The program has already started for January, but Olsen hopes that won't be a deterrent for those interested in signing up. This month's meetings have focused on inoculating mushroom logs with mushroom spores, but — the more, the merrier.

“People are always welcome,” Olsen assured. “Just come on in, and we'll educate as we go.”

The program is free for military personnel, veterans, and military spouses.

For more information about the program and Whitaker Small Group Farms, Inc., visit www.whitakersmallfarmgroup.com/, email at c.l.w.whitaker@comcast.net or call 919-412-4132.


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