elisha shumaker

Big Breakfast for Big Brothers Big Sisters

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Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” could be heard pouring into the lobby of Eugene’s Hilton Hotel on Wednesday morning as Big Brother “Little”, Jordin, and his “Big”, Ben Sappington rolled up to the main stage on a motorized golf cart.

Jordin took the stage in a white tuxedo, Ben, following behind.  With confidence typically reserved for adults, 12-year-old Jordin stepped up to the microphone and delivered a speech highlighting exactly how drastic of an effect being able to have a mentor through Big Brothers/Big Sisters has had on his life.  One of Jordin and Ben’s favorite activities to participate in together is golfing.  From the audience, one could observe the positive relationship that had developed between the two, and one could sense the confidence Jordin gained from having a mentor.  Ben Sappington is not only a volunteer mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, but also a member of their board as well as an employee within the Chamber of Commerce.

While 40 tables full of philanthropic attendees enjoyed a delicious breakfast, a slideshow played on two large screens.  Flashing by were photos of several pairings of mentors and youth smiling as they enjoyed a wide range of activities together.

Francesca MacCormack, Associate Director of Services, spoke with EDN about BBBS.  She said this benefit was to raise funds for the upcoming year.  Plans for the year include “providing scholarships for extra-curricular opportunities to youth in our programs, an expansion involving reaching youth in Junction City, as well as services to assist older youth in transitioning successfully into independent living situations.”  MacCormack said that the organization was anticipating approximately $1500 to come from each table at the event.  “We are expecting 100% of those in attendance to either donate or mentor.”  MacCormack stated that she believes it is “our obligation as adults to support the future generations in our community through helping them to achieve their own goals.”.  She added that one of the things she would really like to see change for BBBS is to have an increase in community support and involvement.

Currently the Downtown Athletic Club, YMCA, and Chipolte are community businesses providing free or discounted services to mentor/youth pairs.  “It would be great to see an increase in support from the arts community as well as the U of O”.

Sari Pascoe, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lane County, addressed the gathering.  Pascoe drew attention to the organization’s continuing goal of creating 250 mentor pairs per year, with 100 being formed by summer this year.  She noted the organizations “ability to thrive in the face of adversity”, crediting generous donations still being made, especially in light of the economic recession.  She stated the importance of the work she and her organization accomplish, “we are shaping the next steps of our neighborhoods and community.”.

19-year-old Jacob Haynes, and his Big Brother, Paul Berger, then took the stage, as Jacob gave testimony to the critical impact his mentor has had in changing his life for the better.  Jacob’s life situation found him bouncing in and out of foster care homes and facilities throughout his adolescence, until his behavior hit a point his foster care givers could no longer handle, and he was admitted to the Stepping Stone program.  In an environment providing stability and structure, Jacob started to find his footing.  It was soon after that he was paired with his mentor, Paul Berger.

Jacob stated that through his relationship with Paul he has learned several valuable life lessons, that he may not have learned otherwise.  For instance, he has learned that he’s not stupid, that he is worthy of love and respect.  He also highlighted some of the accomplishments in his own life that he indicated may not have been possible without a positive mentor; he graduated from high school a year early, is applying at LCC, has a job (and continues to look for promotion or better work elsewhere), and has developed social skills and learned to network.  Jacob is a self-proclaimed “highly motivated individual”.  He is also training to run a marathon.

BBBS Board Member, Dean Hansen of Pacific Continental Bank, closed the breakfast out by encouraging those present to be generous with their donations of money and time to this worthy cause, “It makes economic sense to give [financial] support to this organization”,  “your dollars are preventing crime and poverty, creating empowered citizens, and developing leaders for tomorrow.”

Mentor Pairing services in Lane County originally began with the formation of Committed Partners for Youth in 1991.  Local Psychologist and single parent, Llew Albrecht, saw the need for this type of service for at-risk youth in Lane County.  She set to work putting her ‘prevention rather than intervention’ approach to work for local at-risk youth.  It was in 2009, when the CPY merged together with Big Brothers Big Sisters to compose the organization as it now stands.

Molly O’Connor, a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in Biology, started mentoring her little, Molly Ann, this past spring.  She spoke to EDN about her experience; “It’s rewarding seeing how our relationship has progressed – she went from being shy the first few weeks, to showing appreciation for what our relationship has grown to – she called me her best friend a couple of weeks ago”.  O’Connor also said she enjoys working with the staff at BBBS, that they are “helpful, kind people – so willing to help these kids”.  Molly said that she did face a minor challenge of not being available to meet with her little for the span of a month while she was out of the country in Ecuador, but stated that Molly Ann was flexible and understanding about it.

Francesca left me with these words to encourage those with reservations about mentoring, “You don’t need to have your life figured out to be a positive influence in the life of a youth.” 

Story and Photos by Elisha Shumaker, EDN

High Street McMenamins Hosts the 14th Annual Mid-Valley Brewfest

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The Pacific Northwest is traditionally celebrated for its diversity of regionally crafted beers.  This past Saturday McMenamins High Street Brewery in Eugene hosted their 14th annual Mid-Valley Brewfest.

McMenamins High Street

High Street’s brewer, Charlton Fulton, told EDN that this year’s brewfest would showcase beers from six of the McMenamins regional microbrewery locations, as well as highlighting brews from four other guest brewers located in the lower Willamette Valley and I-5 corridor, including Oakshire, Steelhead, Block 15, and Eugene City Brewery.  Past guest brewers have included Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewing Company, and “Eugene’s smallest brewery”; Willamette Brewery.

Fulton stated that McMenamins hosts several competitive brewfests throughout the year, but what makes the Mid-Valley brewfest unique is its non-competitive nature.  This occasion is marked by a desire to bring the community together for a great time with beer, food, music, and more.

“Being able to showcase special beers” from the area is his Fulton’s motivation.  He also mentioned their ambition to celebrate brewing in Eugene by “making people aware of one of the oldest breweries in Eugene”.

EDN contributing photographer, Brandon Preo, and I had the opportunity to stop by the brewfest this weekend and sample the craft beers being featured.  Here’s a brief review of the ten brews:

McMenamins on Monroe Brewery, Corvallis, OR – “Third Eye Red”
Brewed by Gary Nance, this beer is hopped with Centennial and Crystal Hops.  Meant to be a refreshing beer for making the transition from summer to winter, it has a light hop aroma, with a red-orange cloudy appearance.  The taste is rich and sharp with a malty aftertaste.

Steelhead Brewing Company, Eugene, OR – “Reivers’ E.S.B.”
An English style ESB, brewed by Ted Fagan, using Northern Brewer and East Kent hops in conjunction with Black Barley malt, this thick dark reddish-brown beer has a woody aroma, reminiscent of the scent of the forest.  The taste is malty as well as slightly salty.

McMenamins West Linn Brewery, West Linn, OR – “Twister Pale”
The Twister Pale, brewed by Jeremy Wulf, carries a very mild fruity aroma.  It is hopped with Chinook and Cascade hops and highlights of Canadian Superior Pilsen Malt as well as others. This pale ale was light and cloudy, appearing almost citrus-y.  This beer left our palates dissatisfied with an unfulfilling, empty, and watered down taste.

Oakshire Brewing Company, Eugene, OR – “Harvest Ale”
Brewed by Matt Van Wyk, this rusty orange brown ale is constructed with Galena and German Hallertau hops and Vienna and Weyerman Melanoidin malts.  It has a delightful aroma of autumn leaves, with a very organic, earthy feel.  It’s taste is slightly yeasty and bitter with a distinct metallic aftertaste.

McMenamins High Street Brewery, Eugene, OR – “Nikkertot Dunkelweizen”
Characterized by Sterling and Tettanger hops, mixed with Pale Ale, White Wheat, and Roasted Wheat Malts, Charlton Fulton’s brew has an aroma that voices a hearty malt scent as well as a thick roasted oat smell.  It has a deep plum-brown color and the taste is rich and toasty with a heavy flavor.  This is a beer not lacking substance. 

McMenamins Roseburg Station Brewery, Roseburg – OR – “The Marble Rye”
Tom Johnson’s Rye beer is brewed with Citra hops, Rye, Crystal Rye, and Roast Rye malts for a cloudy tan color and a distinct malt and light hop aroma.  The beer has a strong bitter aftertaste that is sour and tangy.

McMenamins John Barleycorns Brewery, Tigard, OR – “Derailed IPA”
Brewed with GWM Pale, Briess Bonlander Munich, and Briess Torrified Wheat malts, as well as Centennial, Chinook, Citra, and Brewer’s Gold hops, Tim Proctor’s IPA boasts a building aroma of trace hops.  It is yellow-orange citrus in appearance and carries a lasting moderate IPA flavor.

McMenamins Thompson House Brewery, Salem, OR – “Northwest Lassie”
With a sweet and vinegar-esque aroma, this brew by Jen Kent, is made from Munich, Vienna, Flaked Barley, Carastan 30/37, and Caramel Munich 60 malts, as well as Sorachi Ace, Citra, and dry hopped with Cascade hops.  It has a caramel color similar to that of whiskey.  This beer has a light bitter toffee aftertaste.

Eugene City Brewery, Eugene, OR – “200 Meter IPA”
Nate Sampson’s IPA is brewed using Northwest Pale, Munich, and Cara Red malts and Centennial, Amarillo, and Cascade hops, making it a “true Northwest IPA”.  This beer has a crisp, clear red-orange coloring with an apple cider, fall flavored aroma.  The taste is piney and syrupy with a mild sweet tang.

Block 15 Brewing Company, Corvallis, OR – “Summer Daze IPA”
Brewers Steve van Rossem and Matt Williams’ Imperial IPA is composed using Marris Otter Pale, Munich, Carastan, and Caramel malts, and Apollo, Bravo, Calypso, and Citra hops, providing a stable balance of malt and hop flavor.  It’s aroma is moderately hoppy, with a slightly cloudy golden orange-red appearance.  It has complete hop flavor from start to finish with a strong bitter aftertaste.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, it’s worth getting your hands on some samples of these great seasonal beers that the region has to offer.

Elisha Shumaker, EDN

 

Faerie Wings and More at Mt. Pisgah

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The warm autumn sun shone a gentle orange glow on Mt. Pisgah Friday afternoon,as the first Faerieworld’s Harvest Celebration commenced their weekend long festivities. Faeries, pixies, and all other manner of legendary folklore creatures funneled through the entrance gates, eager to commune together in music, dance, food, drink and many other celebratory offerings.

Inspired by the artistic creations of UK based Brian and Wendy Froud, the celebration honors the cycles of the seasons.  Event co-coordinator, Kimmy Smith, told EDN that the festival is designed to “acknowledge the abundance of the Pacific Northwest and promote local consciousness regarding farms…and inspire local people to celebrate and express their connections to nature.”  She stated that their intention is to provide a space for all to initiate conversation of how their personal connection to nature sustains and inspires them.  Co-coordinator, Emelio Miller-Lopez, said that to him, “breakthrough comes for many who attend with the unity that comes from the meaningful sense of community that is fostered from having one united focus on a singular main stage”.  He contrasted this unique aspect of the Faerieworld’s Harvest Celebration with many mainstream music festivals that feature multiple stages, where a division of attention tends to occur, providing a diverse, but sometimes disconnected experience. Emilio also stated that an important aspect of the celebration is the bridging of art, music, and literature into a cohesive visual and auditory experience.  Smith also told EDN that Faerieworld’s prior summer celebrations have been “known for reaching a broad international audience” in regards to musicians, vendors, as well as those in attendance, stating that “approximately 75% of attendees are from out of town”.

Sporting carpet and ball pythons wrapped around their necks, celebration-goers Michelle and Steve from Portland, came to Faerieworld’s Harvest Celebration “to enjoy the joy of harvest.” Steve told EDN that they brought the snakes to the festival to promote the notion that “the more you know, the less you fear”.  According to Michelle, her favorite part of the celebration so far has been a troll roaming the grounds chasing children with a spongy hammer.  She said that she would encourage anyone who hasn’t been to a Faerieworld’s event to attend because “it’s an experience you’ll never forget”.  Something tells me she’s right.

Lining the perimeter of the festival were several local, regional, and international artist and vendor tents.  The first vendor/artisan tent as you enter the gates is that of Faerieworld’s regulars, Ventura, California based Sylvan Woods. Here festival goers can buy hand crafted items such as faerie wings, crowns, wands, and flower hats.  Artist and co-owner, Sylvia Cochrane, told EDN that she and co-owner, Will Pullen, typically attend Reniscannce Fairs and Mardis Gras celebrations, but “love this because it is faerie-specific”.  Cochrane said of the festival that “anyone who hasn’t been, needs to come and see it, come out and play, or just people watch.”  She states that the beauty of the celebration is that it “allows for people to become like a child, and as a child be filled with wonderment for all that the universe has to hold; faeries understand that wonder.”   

New to the Faerieworld’s vendor lineup were Unicorns n’ Dragons owners and creators, Peggy and Gordon Hayes hailing from Oregon City, Oregon.  This artist couple specializes in the creation of companion sculptures based on fantasy literature.  Their posable dragons and other magical creatures are crafted from faux leather, clay and latex.  Peggy Hayes told EDN that they were drawn to the “versatility, diversity and music offered by the Faerieworlds Harvest Festival”, as they typically market their wares at Sci-Fi conventions, doll and teddy bear shows and on their website.

Other vendors and artists in attendance offered their handmade animal pelts, organically grown vegetables, local wines and food, glass flutes, journals, and a plethora of Gaelic inspired items. If you are looking to relax, rather than shop……Puck’s Grotto, a tent devoted to sitting and being served locally crafted beer from Ninkasi, and adorned in tapestries and cushy floor pillows, provides a refreshing haven from the outer intensities of the festival.

Taking the main stage in the afternoon was SJ Tucker, filling the air with magical and mystical tunes, inspiring all to join together in vibrant dance.  Other musicians bringing their talents to the stage through the weekend include Delhi 2 Dublin, Faun, and Mood Area 52 among many others.

The enchanting sights and sounds of the Faerieworlds Harvest Celebration are not to be overlooked.  If you missed out on this years festivities, start planning to make it to next years celebration.  You won’t regret it!

Story by Elisha Shumaker, EDN
Photos by Brandon Preo, EDN 

Ninkasi and Cascadia Wildlands Team up to Benefit the Environment with “Pints Gone Wild”

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What could be better than drinking delicious, locally crafted beer on a summer evening?  How about drinking delicious, locally crafted beer and helping to protect regional wildlands. 

Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene opened their beer garden in the Whitaker neighborhood on Tuesday night to welcome the five-piece bluegrass band Opal Creek as part of a year long fundraising effort to support Cascadia Wildlands.  The first Monday of every month (through May 2012), Ninkasi has pledged to donate half of all the proceeds from beer sold at their tasting room to benefit Cascadia Wildlands.  “Pints Gone Wild” began earlier this summer, as a cooperative effort to raise funds to further the causes supported by Cascadia Wildlands.

Ninkasi co-owner, Nikos Ridge, told EDN, that the brewing company has been glad to help in supporting Cascadia because “they do a great job achieving their mission, and they also support the McKenzie Watershed, which is one of our business interests.”  According to Ridge, using the cleanest water when brewing their craft beers is critical to maintaining their high standards of quality.  Ninkasi and Cascadia Wildlands also share more than just an appreciation for the environment of the Pacific Northwest. They want to make a difference.

This isn’t Ninkasi’s first time showing their support for Cascadia’s work.  The brewing company has also sponsored, through monetary and in kind donations, events such as Cascadia’s annual Hoedown in October, their Wonderland Auction in December, and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.  Josh Laughlin, campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands, expressed to EDN that Ninkasi “has been generous since their inception, they have really set the bar high on community support.”

Cascadia Wildlands works to protect the most vulnerable ecosystems stretching from Oregon to Alaska. Founded in 1998, Cascadia Wildlands has succeeded in using legal means to prevent and reverse legislation that would have otherwise allowed for major destruction of precious wildlands.

One of the current efforts being made by Cascadia Wildlands is to restore populations of the grey wolf in Oregon. The grey wolf has experienced extinction in Oregon through systematic removal, and have only recently began to repopulate through migration from Idaho.  In May of this year, Congress repealed the Rocky Mountain grey wolf’s status as an endangered species in Montana, Idaho, and parts of Washington and Oregon. Laughlin said that currently there are approximately three packs of twenty wolves that have been restored in Oregon.  Cascadia is working to protect these wolves from further threat, by attempting to block legislation that would allow for the hunting of these endangered wildlife.

Another major goal of Cascadia Wildlands is to guard Elliot State Forrest (ESF) from clearcutting.  The Elliot State Forrest is a publically-owned rainforest covering 93,000 acres of Oregon’s coastal region.  ESF contains more carbon per acre than nearly any other place in the world.  This means that clearcutting this area would release carbon into the atmosphere, ultimately abetting climate change.  Currently, the Governor’s Forrest Management Plan calls for a doubling of the clearcutting that is already taking place at ESF as part of a previous agreement to help provide funds for education.

Ninkasi’s continued support has been instrumental in helping Cascadia Wildlands fuel these environmental watchdog efforts as well as many others. Find out more about Cascadia Wildlands’ by visiting their site. You too can take action to help protect the majestic Northwest through your volunteer or monetary contributions. 

Elisha Shumaker, EDN
Photos by Brandon Preo, EDN


Local Teens Gain Valuable Work Experience

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Story by Elisha Shumaker, EDN
Photos by Brandon Preo, EDN

It can be difficult for a teenager to find a job, especially in the current economic climate.  It can be even more difficult to find a job that teaches them the skills needed to enter the work force, as well as the opportunity to participate in meaningful community-based conservation projects with their peers.

Northwest Youth Corps (NYC), based in Eugene, has been providing such an opportunity to local youth since 1984.  Starting with 52 young people in their first year, the organization has been able to influence the lives of over 14,000 youth during the course of their 27 year history.  This summer local teams of twenty young people ages 16-19 committed their time to working with the organizations OutDoorOregon (ODO) program .  Projects completed by this year’s crew included working in collaboration with Springfield’s Willamane Park & Recreation District to remove invasive plant species to improve walking and bike trails, and decrease the occurrence of illegal camping in the area.

A crew member works to roll a log at the Cougar Mountain site.

Another undertaking the organization arranged involved working with the Upper Willamette Watershed Council (UWWC), Lane County Waste Management, and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to clear overgrown blackberry brush that had become an ecological threat to the Nelson’s Creek habitat.  They also spent time collecting native seeds to aid in a future meadow restoration project.  The crew spent their last week of work performing trail maintenance at Cougar Mountain, near Creswell, clearing poison oak, building rock crossings, and preparing a log to be used as a bridge on the trail.

The NYC works in conjunction with Americorps, and offers a wide range of other services that provide youth in Oregon communities as well as Washington, California, Idaho, and Arizona with similar opportunities.  Some of the services provided include an accredited alternative high school based at the NYC’s local campus, ten residential Conservation Corps programs, and a partnership with Cycle Oregon Conservation Team.

The benefits reaped by the youth involved in these projects include financial compensation, high school credit, as well as far reaching intangible assets such as cooperation, leadership, teamwork skills, and stewardiship.  The agency aims to provide an education-based work experience that fosters the development of critical job and life skills.  In addition to their tedious work schedule, the crew are acquainted with members of the conservation community, including forest rangers, crew sponsors, and crew leaders who provide daily instruction on important topics such as resume building and employer/employee interactions and expectations.

Program Manager Abby Wellumson interacts in the field with a crew member.

The youth are also introduced to opportunities for future careers within the field of conservation.  When interviewed by EDN, Program Manager of the ODO, Abby Wellumson, stated “The greatest benefits of this program are that it gets local youth out of doors, away from overwhelming digital influences, connects them with nature, and builds work skills.”

One local youth involved with the recent project at Cougar Mountain, Anya Gearhart, attested to NYC’s relevance in her life.  This summer’s work opportunity was her second time working for the organization.  Gearhart said that before joining a camping crew in Washington last summer, she had been on a downward spiral that included poor decision making, such as dropping out of high school.  Working through NYC was influential in helping her regain focus and determination, as well as begining to realize the things she was capable of.  From her experience, Gearhart told EDN, “I’ve learned that I have a strong work ethic, and have gained confidence in my abilities.”

Crew Leader Peter Chesser instructs members of NYC.

The not for proft organization is funded through several grants and a variety of gifts and donations.  For example, grants from local utility provider, EWEB, allowed for NYC’s main campus to develop a sustainable and energy effecient system.  This has alllowed the organization to cut their energy costs, enabling them to focus their financial resources on the further development of programs that benefit youth.  Another major contributor to the NYC has been the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, which helped fund the recent project at Cougar Mountain.

Wellumson stated that the NYC is currently looking for more staff and youth to join their ranks for a work project to take place in the fall.  Orientation will be held this Saturday (Aug. 26th), those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity are urged to contact NYC through their website.

More information about the other groups mentioned in the artcle, can be found on their websites:

1.)  Americorps
2.)  Oregon Youth Conservation Corps 
3.)  Cycle Oregon Conservation Team

New Opportunities on the Horizon as Disc Golf Continues to Grow in Popularity

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Story by Elisha Shumaker, EDN
Photos by Brandon Preo, EDN

One of Eugene’s most popular recreational past times, disc golf, is continuing to grow at exponential rates.  Nationally, the sport has been seeing continual increases in participation of 15% annually, while more traditional activities, such as tennis and softball, are seeing steady declines in participants.

National Women's Disc Golf Champion Maggie Drews (left) demonstrates the fundamentals of putting

Eugene has become a hotbed of activity in the world of disc golf, with the University of Oregon’s disc golf team yielding the first ever women’s national champion in 2011, Maggie Drews.  Maggie continues to play, post-matriculation, on a professional level.  She also provides free instruction to groups through Eugene’s REI. Drews’ free clinics encourage individuals of all ages, and fitness and skill levels to get out, play, and become active.  There is an abundant interest in the sport, and it is easy and inexpensive to begin playing recreationally.  Through the clinics Maggie presents participants with an overview of basic throws, equipment, and rules, giving opportunities for all to work on developing their technique.  Drews states that her biggest motivation in spreading her passion for disc golf is to see more women become involved in a sport that is currently male dominated.  Since her graduation, Drews says U of O’s disc golf team no longer has a female competitor.  She also mentioned the limited opportunities currently available for Eugene’s growing disc golf population.

Over the past 23 years, disc golfers in Eugene have been limited to a single nine-hole course located at Westmoreland Community Park, near 18th Ave & Chambers. With the expanding interest in this activity, disc golfers are finding that this location can no longer meet the high demand present in Eugene.  The small course can handle approximately 40 players per hour, making the time to complete the nine holes about half an hour.  Lately, however, with the growing interest by so many in the city, the course tends to back up to the extent that playing out a full game can stretch to over an hour.  Disc golfer’s wishing to avoid this congestion or play a full 18-hole round must travel, with the nearest courses being in Cottage Grove or Dexter.

At Westmoreland Community Park a disc golfer drives from the first hole on the nine-hole course

Dave Battaglia, Eugene’s Recreation Manager, says there is a need within the city for a centralized full 18-hole course, that would be easily accessible to all of the city’s inhabitants.  The city’s recreation department has been considering the creation of such a course at Alton Baker Park.  The course was tested over the duration of three separate dates this summer, attracting between 350 and 560 golfers each day.  The proposed course at Alton Baker Park would be semi-permanent, in that the existing plan allows for a five year trial period.  The course also has built-in flexibility to accommodate the many other activities that find their home in the park, as well as any ecological changes that may present themselves in the future.

If the proposal for the new course is passed, it is slated to be established within the next year.  In contrast to the city’s existing course, the Alton Baker course would be manned by a concessionaire, with nominal fees to play, which cover the costs of installation, operation, and maintenance.  Battaglia stated that he anticipates crowds of 100 to 200 golfers per day, should the course’s development be completed.

For more information on disc golf in Eugene, check out these four to explore:

1.) Northwest Disc Golf News

2.) Eugene Disc Golf Club

3.) Westmoreland Disc Golf Club

4.) Professional Disc Golf Association