For more than 40 years, Harland S. Hitchings helped teach coastal Mainers valuable safety outdoor safety lessons. Beginning this year, the Pleasant River Fish & Game Conservation Association will honor that service by naming an academic scholarship after him.
The scholarship program has been active for several years, according to a press release from the PRF&GCA, but this year the newly renamed Harland Hitchings Conservation Scholarship has been increased to $1,000.
Students at high schools in the club’s service area — Jonesport-Beals, Machias, Narraguagus of Harrington and Washington Academy of East Machias — are eligible to win the scholarship.
Hitchings was the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s recreational safety coordinator for Hancock and Washington counties, and worked for the department for 48 years. He retired at 92, and taught his last “official” class in November of 2014. He then worked as a volunteer master instructor until his death at age 95.
“Over the course of decades, Harland taught many classes at PRF&GCA and was an honorary life member,” said the club’s chief hunter safety instructor, Larry Balchen. “We were very fortunate to have him as a colleague and more importantly, a friend. Harland not only shared our dedication to community service, he carried it to a level that was truly exceptional.”
Balchen said club members sought a way to honor his life, and the scholarship renaming made perfect sense.
“This seemed to be the most fitting manner as it furthers the goals of his life’s work,” Balchen said. “It is our hope that this program will foster the same spirit of dedication in the youth it assists.”
For more information about the PRF&GCA and the scholarship, go to prfgca.org.