The weather outside was frightful, but inside the Watertown (S.D.) Convention Center was so delightful — thanks to the warm hospitality of NWTF South Dakota volunteers.
I spent last weekend with a few dozen of them at their annual state convention, where they handed out awards for awesomeness in volunteerism and events. I served as the keynote speaker, did a seminar on communicating with nonhunters, and spread general goodwill on behalf of the NWTF headquarters staff. It was an easy task with this great group of folks.
It began when the Schauer Family picked me up from the Sioux Falls airport, saving this Southern gal a potential stroke of having to drive in below freezing temps, dodging ice patches or waiting for pending doom as the snow crept in.
They said, “South Dakota volunteers are like family.” I found that to be true as they instantly took me in and made me one of their own for a few days. I felt like an exchange student from the other “South” state.
But the family vibe was even more evident watching the volunteers interact with each other. They spent just as much time encouraging each other and pitching in to help, as they did ribbing and poking fun in a good-natured way. Looks like a family reunion to me, no?
I found it wonderful how so many “flesh and blood” families came to the convention as well, proving the NWTF offers something for everyone. Among the training seminars on turkey hunting and NWTF events, the Bramble Park Zoo brought in critters for kids of all ages (like me) to pet and get a closer look — a hedge hog, bearded dragon and, ew, snakes, to name a few.
Conference planners also offered a visit to renowned artist and son of Watertown Terry Redlin’s museum. I slipped in and took a fast-forward tour of the three levels of original art and prints, thanks to my NWTF sister Becky Schauer hauling my tail over there between speaking engagements.
I’m thinking this Dakota didn’t get its “prefix” based on geography; it’s because it gives the South (as in Dixie) a run for its money on hospitality.
Thanks, South Dakota NWTF, for a great weekend. And I’ll be thinking of you until spring comes and thaws out your awesome state — and brings turkey season your way.