CEO Notes

Our time to Rise and Fly

The annual convention is a whirlwind weekend of fantastic memories. If you’ve attended our convention and sport show, you know how easy it is to get caught in the flurry of activity. How the sights, sounds, experiences and (for me) feelings that swirl around you from the beginning of each day and on into the night. 

Our convention and sport show is about volunteers, partners, veterans, hunters, consumers, friends … it’s about all of us and how each person plays a valuable role in not only this annual event in Nashville, but who we are: As the NWTF. Purveyors of our mission. Ambassadors for Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. Individuals who dare to make a difference.

It’s hard for me to really put my finger on my favorite memories from our convention. Instead, I lean on feelings or takeaways from the entire experience.

I witnessed unprecedented engagement of our volunteer leadership and conservation partners in seminars and training exercises that they’ve since taken back to implement in their home states. They learned from experts. They learned from each other. They left energized.

I was taken aback by the enthusiasm of NWTF partners who have pledged greater support than ever before. It materialized in larger-than-life banners, a sold-out sport show and growing sponsorship of convention activities. What’s more impressive is what you didn’t see — the support they’ve lent to initiatives like Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. as well as our Hunting Heritage Center. They trust in the work we’re doing and desire to be a part of this winning team.

I watched the sport show aisles and halls teem with people. They came for the latest hunting gear or a celebrity autograph, but no doubt each one left with a better understanding of the passion that makes the NWTF great.

We celebrated our top chapters and volunteers at a variety of events, from the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. breakfast, to special conservation lunches, to the penultimate Saturday night awards dinner and concert. It does all our hearts good to watch people succeed on behalf of our mission. When they win, we all win. The resource wins. 

However, each person at our convention and sport show carries with them the seed of potential. Each one of you does. We all have the ability to be a bigger part of the NWTF. 

Most of you reading this statment are already NWTF members. You understand what planting that seed of potential means for wildlife, wild places and our hunting traditions. Your $35 annual membership helps us do great things. Collectively, we have created a solid grassroots system that is committed to saving critical wildlife habitat and the hunters who have taken it upon themselves to be its caretakers.

We are firmly rooted as an organization, but now it’s time to reach for the sky. It’s time to rise and fly. 

If you were in Nashville or follow the NWTF on social media, you couldn’t help but see the emotionally stirring video that serves as the take off point for the Rise and Fly campaign. Go to to watch it again. 

Rise and Fly isn’t a new mission or initiative. It’s a call to action. 

If we are to continue on this growth trajectory, picking up altitude as we engage more volunteers, partners and supporters, we have to grow our ranks. We must bring in more members, people with the untapped seed of potential who can grow along with our mission.

The call to action is simple: sign up a new NWTF member. Someone you love. Someone you introduced to hunting. Someone you want to leave your legacy to.

It’s our time to rise and fly. Let’s not leave anyone behind.

George Thornton