Clarence was a freshman at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1962 majoring in agriculture. He was from southern Illinois and looking for a way to meet new friends so he joined an archery club he learned about from a flyer posted in the Stock Pavilion. His love of archery lasted a lifetime. He had shot arrows for over 60 years. But as life goes, the arthritis pain in his joints was telling him his days of pulling back a bow string were now over. Clarence however felt no sadness in his joints….he instead felt the urge to give something back to the organization where his love of archery was born.
A quick internet search with the words “University of Illinois Archery” brought up an article from the U of I College of ACES about a recent 4-H State Archery Shoot - and Clarence was intrigued. He continued searching and found the 4-H staff person responsible for this program and packaged up his best bow for shipment and sent it with a note. He didn’t care how much it cost to mail a package from his home in California to Illinois. This was important.
The Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports program recently partnered with IDNR Hunter Safety volunteers to conduct a hands-on program for youth at the Dixon Springs Ag Experiment Station with Pope County Extension. Youth obtained their IDNR Hunter Certification cards and were introduced all 4-H has to offer including shotgun, rifle, and archery shooting disciplines. At the conclusion of this fun weekend, Clarence’s bow was the prize of a random drawing of all youth participants. A 10 year old boy from Pope County named Jake who had absolutely loved being introduced to archery that weekend beamed when his name was called as the lucky recipient of his new bow.
The message Clarence had mailed with his bow was shared with the crowd, and everyone clapped with gratitude. Jake’s smile said it all. Thank you Clarence. Your lifetime love of archery has been successfully passed on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Curt Sinclair is the 4-H Youth Development Extension Specialist for Shooting Sports and Environmental Education. He received his B.S. in Forestry from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1982 and his Master's in Recreation Resource Administration from North Carolina State University in 1988.