Illinois proves to be top state in top conservation organization
September 24, 2003
Half-a million members. That's enough to fill the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field stadium almost 13 times over. It's also a lot of dedicated National Wild Turkey Federation hunter/conservationists who are dedicated to wild turkey conservation and the preservation of our hunting traditions right here in Illinois and all across North America.
"Reaching the 500,000 membership mark shows how important the work of the NWTF is to hunters and conservationists everywhere," said Rob Keck, NWTF CEO. "Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has taken on the leadership role in the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. Today, 30 years later, there are over 46,000 NWTF members in Illinois alone."
Those dedicated members add up to one dynamic group hard at work on a variety of efforts in Illinois including wild turkey restoration, wildlife habitat enhancement, hunter education, scholarships, research, land acquisition and outreach programs for women, children and the disabled.
"Illinois is the biggest NWTF state in terms of number of chapters and total membership," said Frank Nix, NWTF Senior Regional Field Supervisor for Illinois. "That's something we're very proud of here, especially when we've accomplished so much for wild turkeys and other wildlife in the state through the Wild Turkey Super Fund."
Administered jointly by the NWTF, its state chapters and state wildlife agencies, the Wild Turkey Super Fund is used for projects that support the conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of the hunting tradition. Nationally, NWTF chapters and cooperating partners have raised and spent over $175 million dollars for wild turkey conservation. Since 1985, over $1,662,253 has been raised and spent by Illinois chapters on projects within the state. More than $257,038 was spent in 2002 alone.
"We've also done a lot of work toward improving habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife," said Nix. "NWTF's Illinois chapters have spent $347,839 on habitat improvement projects that have impacted more than 62,734 acres within the state."
On another front, $86,000 has been earmarked for youth outdoor education and for college scholarships for deserving high school students.
And things are getting even bigger and better. Nix says that due to phenomenal growth and having to manage the state's 135 dynamic NWTF chapters, the NWTF will be hiring another regional director to cover northern Illinois and expand the existing regional director staff of three.
"We're looking for someone who is hard-charging, self-motivating and is dedicated to hunting and wildlife conservation. Someone who can bring professionalism and excitement to our Illinois membership," said Nix.
To learn how to join an NWTF chapter in your area or to find out more about the NWTF, call 1-800-THE-NWTF or visit the NWTF Web site at www.nwtf.org.