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Fins & Feathers Reel in Another Year of Success

Norwich University Fins & Feathers raise over $500,000 in funds to aid scholarships and enhance the Norwich experience.

“I’ve been participating in Fins and Feathers events since 2021 and am deeply impressed with their dedication to Norwich and their ability to rally our alumni and friend base around worthy causes,” said General William F. McCollough, Commandant of Cadets, class of ‘91. “From raising funds for various scholarship funds to supporting new student-oriented programs, they reinforce our Norwich mission with every event.”

Fins & Feathers, one of the largest and most influential alumni organizations, prides itself on fostering Norwich’s values and keeping students, faculty, and alumni returning year after year. In 2023 alone, the group raised over $500,000 in funds, all donated directly to the school.

“At the origins of Fins & Feathers, our collective goal was to run exceptional events that enhance our alumni experience and expand the Norwich network, all while raising funds that will be reinvested back to Norwich.” Said Hugh Mclaughlin, Fins & Feathers committee member, class of ‘87.

Funding is not the only thing this group has accomplished. Fins & Feathers strives to bring awareness to difficult subjects that affect alumni, most notably post-traumatic stress. In the fall of 2023, Fins & Feathers gifted a statue of a service dog to Norwich as a permanent reminder that many members of the Norwich family carry the weight of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health challenges.

The dog, “Fin,” is located outside Dewey Hall next to an empty bench. The empty bench, where a handler should be, shows the emptiness and loneliness those who struggle with PTS feel daily. In addition, the group commissioned a video to increase awareness of the programs and network of support available to struggling people.

“I think Fin and the mental health awareness video featuring LTC Chris Cadigan are the two most impactful Fins & Feathers initiatives,” said Randall H. Miller, committee member and creator of the Second Mess podcast, class of ‘93. “The statue is a reminder for everyone to care for each other. But it also reminds me of how extraordinary this organization is.”

Fins & Feathers was established in 2019 by a handful of alumni passionate about the outdoors. Cultivating quite a following their first event, “Offshore Battle.” (A fishing event in Provincetown, Massachusetts), the group blossomed into a now multi-regional organization offering events coast-to-coast. These events are Fins (fishing gatherings) or Feathers (hunting/shooting gatherings).

Annual events include Fins & Feathers Block Party (Northfield, Vermont), Patriot Shootout (Hudson Farms, New Jersey), California Cast & Blast (Dana Point, California), Offshore Battle (Provincetown, Massachusetts), and Upper Parade ground Tower Hunt (Addieville, Rhode Island). Although almost all these events are based on fishing and hunting, no experience is necessary to participate.

This group prides itself on its diverse community. The opportunity to share experiences, stories, and memories from one’s time at “The Wick’, all while fishing or hunting, is an aspect of this organization that participants find immeasurably valuable.

With a diverse age gap between the oldest and youngest participants, the Fins & Feathers committee constantly welcomes younger alumni into their organization. In doing this, the group helps aid the Norwich networking process by connecting alumni through these entertaining and unique events.

Alumni networking alone is an appealing aspect to current students and recent graduates. Still, the combination of networking, camaraderie, community, and school spirit is the ultimate recipe to get students hooked on this organization and enhance their alumni experience.

“Expanding the university footprint by raising money while connecting alumni across all ages attributes to the immense impact Fins and Feathers has made in such a short period,” said Brandon Beal, Fins & Feathers committee member, class of ‘19.

The group is anticipating yet another year of success. They hope to reel in new alumni and community members to participate in events and aim to make 2024 the best year yet.

Fins & Feathers range of impact is infinite. Committee members strive to make events bigger and better year after year, and 2024 will be no different.

“Fins & Feathers’ ambitious fundraising strategies have had an impressive impact on the university,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs, class of ‘01. “Not only does this group raise funds, but they also create lasting waves of support that echo across the university, shaping a legacy where the spirit of camaraderie meets the commitment to education.”

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Kerry McAuley, Staff Reporter
Kerry McAuley is a staff reporter for the Guidon. She is a freshman civilian student, graduating with the class of 2027. Kerry is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Communications.      
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