The NWTF knew early on that it would take great partners, science-based decision making and an entire team of staff and volunteers at the local, state and national level to be successful. This past year, for the first time in our 46-year history, we have more staff spread across the country working with you — our volunteers, our partners and our donors — than we have at our national headquarters.
This year at our record-breaking NWTF Convention and Sport Show, we held the second annual meeting of the Federation of State Chapter Presidents. The Federation model has served us well, and we are working with you to make the NWTF stronger, more effective and even more successful.
The restoration of the wild turkey across the country was the initial vision of our founders, and we were wildly successful. Restoring wild turkeys was just the first step. To have robust turkey populations, birds need great habitat and careful management. I believe our ability to bring partners together to work on important habitats, to keep our public lands open and our investment to recruit hunters and conservationists is what sets us apart. 2018 was a landmark year for our partnerships, as we celebrated conserving 20 million acres of habitat!
Our work to actively manage our nation’s woodlands is needed now more than ever, as we face drought, disease and fuel loads ripe for wildfire in many of these forests. Through your efforts, we can help our agency partners stretch their dollars and get more done, and we can help policy makers understand and remove barriers to good habitat management.
We are an organization that shares a deep and passionate love of turkey hunting, and we know it takes hunters to make conservation work. Today, we face a conservation crisis as this nation’s population of hunters continues to decline and age. As the organization that led the way to expand hunting through programs like JAKES, Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin’ Sportsmen, we face our biggest challenge yet. We must stop the decline of hunters in our nation. This effort will take each of us making a personal commitment to bring new hunters into the fold each and every year. We must do it now, build our success exponentially and reach beyond youth and traditional programs to reach new adult hunters. We simply do not have enough time to focus only on children. Potential new hunters may not look like our current members, but if they are interested in learning about hunting, about harvesting and preparing nature’s most organic protein, or about conservation, we need to open our arms and welcome them into the flock!
This past winter, I was honored to share the podium with three of our great corporate partners. In January, Johnny Morris asked the NWTF to join with Bass Pro to introduce the Tracker line of off-road vehicles as the Official ORV of the NWTF. During this fun-filled ceremony, I was struck by Johnny’s sense of gratitude —his gratitude of staff, dealers, partners and customers.
Toxey Haas and Gus Bader showed this same sense of gratitude as they spoke alongside me at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas in January. Gus, the CEO of TriStar Arms, shared his love for hunting and firearms ownership and how grateful he is to operate a successful family business and enjoy these pursuits here in his adopted country of the United States. Toxey, owner and president of Mossy Oak, explained how Mossy Oak grew up alongside the NWTF and how we are like family.
I echo their deep feelings of gratitude. It is truly my honor to work and celebrate alongside you and our partners for the success of the best mission in conservation. Last year, I told you that I believed the best is yet to come for the NWTF. Today, I am convinced of it! I am profoundly proud and thankful to be a part of this great organization with you, our members and volunteers, and I look forward to a great year and a very bright future for the NWTF.
— Becky Humphries, NWTF CEO