What did you do last year?

I don't mean what beach you went to on vacation or how many football games you attended. What I'm asking is what did you do to ensure you gave more than you received?

It's a question a lot of folks are asking lately. Most of the talks come from the realm of politics -- who gets how much of somebody else's money?

But what about the outdoors world? It's just as important that each of us strives to pull our share of the load. If not, we have no right to complain when things go wrong.

There are all sorts of ways to ensure our sports are better for our children than they were for us. The key ingredient -- the one there's no substitute for -- is to get involved. You can make that idea as complicated or as simple as you want.

Some folks dive into the issues headfirst. They spearhead campaigns. They volunteer to go to meetings or organize fundraisers. But to make a difference, you don't have to go all in. Simply get involved. Join a local sportsmen's club. Attend meetings. And volunteer for projects you believe in.

There are groups and clubs for folks with all sorts of interests -- hiking, hunting, fishing and even trapping. Find one that promotes interests that you believe in and get involved.

But giving back to the outdoors community doesn't always require a large time investment. Take 10 minutes a few times each month to send your elected leaders a note. The recent fiscal-cliff debate was a great opportunity to be heard. But I'm guessing very few folks bothered to write their congressman about the atrocity of keeping sportsmen-generated tax dollars as a political hostage.

Another simple way to get involved doesn't require you to even leave your couch. Read a book. Easy. There's no better way to get informed about what's happening in the world of the outdoors than reading. You will learn the issues, the potential solutions and the obstacles that stand in the way.

It's easy to form an opinion after reading a couple of blog postings or maybe a few rants on an Internet forum. But to learn the unbiased facts and the broader spectrum of the story, you need books -- preferably a few of them.

One author I try to read every year has very little knowledge about modern outdoors issues. He's been dead for half a century. But Ernest Hemingway's writings on hunting and fishing will always do one of two things -- his work will either make you yearn to get outdoors or it will stir anger as you learn how ruthlessly many species were targeted during the first half of the 20th century.

It's an easy and unique way to create an outdoor-focused mindset without having to dedicate countless hours to the effort. The words you read could be the spark that leads you to make a difference.

We just started a fresh year. Before we get too far into it, ask yourself what you did last year.

I bet you won't like the answer.

Get involved.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@york dispatch.com.