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Reaching Out

It's summer. Everyone seems to head outside this time of year.

Beaches, bays, lakes, rivers, campgrounds, cabins and RV parks overflow with people when the days get longer and the evenings warmer.

It's no wonder summertime is prime time for the NWTF's outreach programs.

According to the coordinators for the Women in the Outdoors, Wheelin' Sportsmen and JAKES/Xtreme JAKES programs, NWTF volunteers ramp up events in late spring, with August and September as the busiest months for outreach.

Busy is an understatement. These three programs provide outdoor opportunities to more than 100,000 women, youth and people with disabilities each year through hunts, shoots, field days and hands-on learning events.

And we are apparently are doing a great job at it.

The results of recent research by Responsive Management (one of the top research firms in the wildlife and sports industries), the NWTF's outreach programs are effective in creating new outdoors enthusiasts, keeping them interested in outdoor pursuits as well as coming to these events year after year. Nearly 40 national and state hunting, shooting and fishing recruitment programs were put through the ringer, and the NWTF came out on top in several categories.

Outreach is a collective term the NWTF uses to describe Women in the Outdoors, Wheelin' Sportsmen and JAKES, however, our efforts are more than the three programs. To me, outreach is anything NWTF chapters do beyond a fundraising Hunting Heritage Banquet. And, boy, do we do a lot! Each issue of Turkey Country magazine is full of ways volunteers are bringing more folks to the flock — from the foothills of South Carolina to Capitol Hill.

Wildlife habitat-minded volunteers host Wild Turkey Woodland Landowner Field Days to reach out to landowners and managers and teach them how the NWTF can help them make their piece of dirt better for wildlife, even for their wallets. Visit Sweat Equity to learn more about these field days. Even if you don't own an inch of land, you can reap something from these events.

The NWTF recently partnered with the USDA Forest Service in its More Kids in the Woods program. The goal is similar to our JAKES program, getting more youth outdoors, but serves as an example of how we can be more effective at conservation and outreach when we work together with like-minded groups.

In his most recent Biospeaking column, NWTF Chief Conservation Officer James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., taught me how senior NWTF staff continuously reaches out to the decision makers in Washington, D.C., making sure they understand our mission and what conservation and hunting means to our members, the economy and our country's heritage.

It was no surprise to hear that most legislators, senators and congressmen aren't avid outdoors enthusiasts. Perhaps they could benefit from a JAKES Day on the White House lawn.

— Karen Lee, Turkey Country editor



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