CEO Notes

The future of our family

As spring slides into summer, the longer days and abundance of the season feeds the cycle of life. Eggs laid a few short weeks ago have hatched, and across the country, hens are hard at work raising and mentoring a new generation of wild turkeys. With the warmer temperatures and long days, poults grow and mature quickly, using the abundance of food to fuel their development. But as it is for all wild creatures, even though it’s summer, the living’s not always easy, and some won’t make it. Dealing with the many challenges to staying alive are also important lessons of the cycle of life. The lessons come hard, but they keep our flocks wild and strong.

For volunteers and members of the NWTF, summer also is a time to focus on our families, both the ones we share our homes and hearts with and those we share a passion with — our NWTF family. It is a season of weddings, graduations, family reunions and long summer days. It is a time to catch our breath from the fast-paced hunting and banquet season, to enjoy reconnecting with family and friends. It is a time of cookouts and campfires, fireflies and family vacations. It is also a time to plan for the coming year and reconnect with those we have mentored ... our next generation of hunters.

This May, the NWTF was a key partner in the inaugural National R3 Conference. More than 300 individuals from wildlife agencies, nonprofit groups and the outdoor industry came together in Lincoln, Nebraska, to share experiences, ideas and jointly work to strengthen and build the national R3 effort to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters in America. This effort grew out of the work of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports that was formed in 2010. The NWTF has been a big part in developing the National R3 Plan and our work is critical to the promotion of R3 across the country. I was fortunate to be part of the formation of the council and, like a protective hen, am proud of the progress that it has achieved thus far to promote hunting recruitment, retention and reactivation. Ensuring a bright future for hunting is personal for me, and I hope it is personal for you, too.

As I prepared a presentation for the conference, I reflected on how far we have come and how much farther we have to go to reverse the decline of hunters. It will take the efforts of all us working together to achieve real growth. As a baby boomer, I share many of the values of my generation. And, like many of my fellow boomers, I realize that much has changed with succeeding generations. While individuals vary, trends tells us millennials like experiences rather than possessions. Their generation is more diverse and inclusive and shares their experiences on social media. They also value authentic portrayals of outdoor events, rather than celebrity endorsements, scripted hunts or hunting competitions. We have a real opportunity to bring millennials into hunting in the days ahead. For our hunting heritage to remain strong, we must welcome these younger members into the flock in ways that they appreciate and allow them to show us how we can be successful in the future.

This summer, my own family is adding a new generation and, I hope, a new hunter down the road. My daughter, Jenn, and her husband, Rusty, are expecting a child.

As you enjoy the summer and all it has to offer, I urge you to use some of your activities to help us grow our flock. Thank you for sharing your passion for our mission and encouraging family and friends across generations to join us in our significant work to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

— Becky Humphries, NWTF CEO