The Regional Draw
By Tim Jenkins
El Pomar staff members generally travel to the regions in Colorado that they support several times a year for Council meetings and grantee-partner visits. These trips tend to be brief and business-oriented, and often the people, towns and landscape pass by too quickly in the blur of a rental car window. Joining the Foundation as a native Marylander, I did not have much familiarity of the Northeast Region. I knew that it was a friendly place, but I wondered how and if I would really get to know the region beyond just brief visits. My answer came in November of 2019 in the form of another non-native, the Ring-necked Pheasant – one of the most widespread and ancient game birds in the world and found throughout the Northeast region.
I have Colorado to thank for my interest in hunting. Although I took my hunter safety class growing up in Maryland, nearly all my hunting experiences have been here in Colorado. As a senior at Colorado College, I explored the Pueblo Reservoir with a few friends and had some moderate success duck hunting – enough to feed a few classmates with wild game. After college, I moved to California and strayed from both hunting and fishing – two of my newly favored Colorado pursuits. But upon returning for the Fellowship, I knew that I had a chance to reengage in those activities.
The Ring-necked Pheasant was introduced to the United States in the early 1880s by Owen Denny, the then-U.S. consul general in Shanghai. “The native range of the Ring-necked Pheasant,” Audobon naturalist Kenn Kauffman writes, “stretches all the way across the temperate regions of Asia, from the Black Sea and Caspian Sea eastward to Korea and the coast of China (with a closely related form, possibly the same species, in Japan).” Since their introduction, pheasants have flourished in America, and today can be found in 40 states. In Colorado, pheasants thrive in the grassy eastern plains and riparian zones near our many rivers. They are friends of the farmer and relish the opportunity to feed after the harvester passes by.
It is a little tricky to say that I am a friend of the pheasant – after all, several made their way into my cooking pot last fall. However, I do respect and appreciate this close cousin of the chicken a great deal, and I am grateful for all of the memories of success, failure and friendship that come with the pursuit. Last year’s hunting season afforded Fellow Alum Jack Gurr and me the opportunity to slow down and appreciate Northeastern Colorado in unique ways. From breakfasts at the Main Event in Downtown Yuma, to sunsets over 500-acre cornfields, we soaked up the feeling of really being in the region. We were sufficiently awed by Yuma county, which is the leading corn producer in Colorado and produces more corn per capita than any other county in the United States. We heard stories from folks who can trace their roots in the region back five generations. We took every opportunity to just stop and listen: to the wind in the big bluestem grass, to the lowing of cattle framed on the endless horizon and to the voices of people who were kind enough to welcome us there.
Tim Jenkins joined El Pomar Foundation as a member of the 2019 Fellowship class. As a Fellow, Tim works on the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program, Fellowship Recruiting and in the Investment Office. In addition, Tim works in the Metro and Northeast regions. Read more about Tim here.