What would tempt someone from Wayzata to kick-start an outdoors group in Lincoln County?
For Jason Markkula, the answer is simple: It's the small-town atmosphere and the people who share a desire to restore land and put it to good use.
That's why Markkula turned a building he bought in downtown Hendricks into the Bank Inn Hunting Lodge, the venue for this weekend's fundraising event for the newly-formed Hendricks Chapter of Pheasants Forever.
"I was here four years ago for work, met lots of friends, and we decided to form our own chapter," said Markkula, the chapter's president. "I kind of spearheaded it, but it got tons of local support.
"The dedication of the locals to their community," really stood out, added Markkula, who travels to Hendricks a couple times a month. "Very close-knit people who really care about their community. They really inspired me to do this with all their help with the building and I wanted to try to give back."
Markkula said he's in the process of putting the final touches on the historic building that is now home to the Bank Inn Hunting Lodge, which used to be Irene's Cafe.
"A lot of work has gone into it," Markkula said. "Two years and a lot of sweat and a lot of money. But it looks amazing."
The Hendricks Chapter of Pheasants Forever will focus its support on the Minnesota's Build a Wildlife Area campaign and aims to create new public hunting and outdoor recreation areas in Lincoln County.
As a Pheasants Forever chapter, the Hendricks group will decide how 100 percent of its fundraising dollars are spent.
Pheasants Forever chapters operate through a completely grassroots structure that puts local chapters in complete control of how to allocate their funds, allowing them to see the benefits of their conservation leadership in their own communities while belonging to a larger national organization with a voice on federal and state conservation policy.
"This chapter is located in the heart of pheasant country and there is a ton of good work that can be done," said Scott Roemhildt, regional representative for Pheasants Forever in southern Minnesota. "The chapter leaders and volunteers of the Hendricks group have a great passion for the conservation cause."
"We already have three things on our plate," Markkula said. "We don't have hardly any money yet, so we're working to raise money so we can buy some land, turn it over to the state and turn it into WMAs so everyone can enjoy it."