Shelley Nickell Award


One award may be presented annually by the Kentucky State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. This award represents the highest achievement by the recipient for their role in the restoration and conservation of the wild turkey in Kentucky, and their volunteer work for the NWTF.

In serving as a volunteer for the NWTF, one must be a current member in good standing for at least 10 years.  During that membership period, it is not essential, but beneficial to have served on a local or state chapter committee.

Must be nominated by another Kentucky NWTF member.

A one page letter giving a summary of their work for the NWTF and their role in the conservation of the wild turkey in Kentucky with three or less one page letters of recommendation will be their application for this prestigious award.

Resume must be post marked by August 31 to be eligible for that year.

Send resume to the Chairman of the Shelley Nickell Awards committee.

The past recipients will determine the winner and their decision is final.  If the guidelines are not met on any application, it will be disregarded.

The Shelley Nickell Award will be presented at the Kentucky State Awards Banquet. The winner shall remain anonymous until that evening.

The names of past winners will be given to Jim Williams, official historian for the Kentucky State Chapter and the NWTF in Kentucky.  Along with being entered with the list of past volunteers, their name will be added to the Shelley Nickell Mural at the Wolf Creek Dam & Fish Hatcheries Museum.

By having a cut off date of August 31, will give this  committee time to have the process complete for selecting a winner and will not interfere with the late fall and early winter banquet preparations and committee meetings. These guidelines will be given to our State Secretary for filing and posting on the website. Any changes made shall be so noted and passed on to the secretary for updating files and website.

Shelley Nickell Award Winners

By Jim Williams

Shelley Nickell Memorial
Award Winners

1978 - David Deskins
1980 - George Wright
1983 - David Hale
1989 - Wayne Clark
1997 - Pat Cardin
1998 - Jim Williams
1999 - Mike Davis
2000 - Harold Knight
2001 - Donnie McDonald
2002 - Joe Bland
2003 - Bobby Spencer
2004 - Joe Broughton
2005 - Alex Lea
2007 - Jonathan Davis
2008 - J.L. Hendrick
2009 - Eddie Joiner    2010 - Billy Mudd

The first recipient of the "Shelley Nickell Award" was David Deskins of Pikeville, KY. David was given this award in 1978 for his outstanding service in the conservation of the wild turkey. David was very instrumental in the early efforts of protecting the wild turkey in Eastern KY. David's most recent contribution has been in helping to establish the Pike County Putters in Pikeville, KY, David's hometown.

The second recipient of this award was George Wright, from Caldwell County, in 1980. George is our State Biologist for the wild turkey and he has done exceptional work in the restoration of this magnificent bird in our great commonwealth. George has spent countless hours in the field trapping and studying the wild turkey. His work is known and respected nationwide, making him a leader throughout the USA, in the restoration of the wild turkey.

The third person to be honored with this award was David Hale, from Trigg County, in 1983. David has given unfailingly to the support of the wild turkey. He was President of the first chapter formed in the State in 1973, helped convince the KDFWR that the wild turkey needed to be restocked in KY, worked relentlessly in promoting this once it was started, and helped with the purchase of equipment for trapping these birds by giving the state money raised at the annual banquets.

The fourth person to receive this award was Wayne Clark, from Christian County, in 1989. Wayne was elected as the Vice President in 1975, and in 1980 as the President, which he served until 1991. Wayne was very instrumental in hosting the very first banquets and calling contests. Wayne has been a Sponsor Member for several years and has given his support to those chapters that have been formed since he was President. Without Wayne to carry the torch from 1980 to 1991, the KY State Chapter would not have made it and to this, Wayne, we say "thanks".

The fifth person selected to be honored with this award was Pat Cardin, from Hardin County, in 1998. Pat was one of the first District Directors who volunteered his time to help the Regional Directors. Pat helped in the organization of new chapters, worked banquets when the RD could not be there, and helped promote the youth in the wild turkey program by helping produce the video "GETTING INVOLVED".

I (Jim Williams), from Lyon County, was the next person to receive this prestigious award in 1999. I have been involved with the NWTF since its inception in 1973, when along with nine others we formed the first chapter in Cadiz, KY. I am a Life Member, a Senior Sponsor Member, one of the first District Directors, and I have worked with chapters across the state in promoting the wild turkey and our youth. The most memorable event in my turkey travels was when I helped in the organization of a chapter in Grand Rivers, KY in 1998. We named this chapter the "Shelley Nickell Chapter" in honor of the "Protector" himself, Mr. Shelley Nickell.

In January of 2000, Mike Davis of Lawrenceburg, KY (Shelby County) was presented this award for the year 1999. Mike has been a member of the NWTF since the mid 80's, is a Senior Sponsor Member, a Certified Calling Contest Judge, a Director of the State Board Since 1990, served as Master of Ceremonies of Calling Contests, served on the Awards Committee since 1997, and has promoted the youth in our state by personally signing up Jakes Members at the banquets he has attended. Mike is also a member of Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and The Isaac Walton League. Mike helped to organize chapters in and around the central part of the State. He has helped organize and conduct wild turkey hunting seminars in the city of Louisville and in Oldham County. Mike served as publicity chairman with Jim Strader for the 1993 NWTF Convention in Louisville.

During the annual Awards Banquet held in January 2001, Harold Knight (Trigg County) of Knight and Hale Game Calls was the recipient of the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award for the year 2000. Harold is one of the charter members of the first chapter formed in KY, a Life Member, a Sponsor Member and has donated not only of his products, but also of his time to promote the wild turkey here in KY and across this great nation. Harold is a member of several wildlife organizations and supports these as well.

Donnie McDonald of the Three Rivers Chapter in Muhlenberg Co. was presented the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award at the 2002 KY State Awards Banquet. Donnie has been supportive of the NWTF since the early 80's when he became a member at one of the Crofton banquets. Donnie has been involved in the Jakes, WITO and habitat programs since the Three Rivers Chapter was formed. With Donnie's leadership, the Three Rivers Chapter has attained Golden Gobbler for all of its banquets (7). Donnie's interest in habitat programs spans across two states where he maintains food plots for wildlife. He is a caring father and grandfather having his entire family as members of the NWTF. Donnie's chapter has been the seed chapter for several new chapters in the area. He was named the Sportsman of the Year in June of 2001, by the League of KY Sportsmen.

Joe Bland of Waddy, KY (Shelby County), is the 2002 recipient of the Shelley Nickell Award.  Joe has been instrumental in the conservation of the Wild Turkey and other wildlife in the state of Kentucky for his entire life.  Joe served as a Conservation Officer for 20 years prior to his employment with the National Wild Turkey Federation as Regional Director, starting in 1995, and then serving as Regional Field Supervisor from 1998 until his retirement.  Although Joe retired as our RD, he is doing volunteer work for us by serving in the capacity as a District Director.  Through his leadership, the state of Kentucky grew its membership and conservation projects.  The chapter growth went from a very few in 1995 to over 80 across the state and conservation projects multiplied because of chapter growth.  During his tenure, we saw the Superfund dollars spent reach the $1,000,000.00 mark.  His leadership and knowledge in conservation efforts made Kentucky the leader in dollars spent per projects completed in the Superfund arena.  Joe Bland has generated thousands of dollars in donations and gifts to the NWTF.  He has attained the status of Guardian Life Sponsor, and he has been a Sponsor member of several chapters across the state. Joe has been on the forefront when it comes to taking kids hunting.  He has participated in the Wheelin’ Sportsmen’s hunt in Kentucky by sponsoring and guiding the participants.  He has opened his farm and lease up for kids to have a place to hunt. The name Joe Bland is synonymous to KY-NWTF.

Bobby Spencer serves as President for the Wilderness Trail Chapter (Anderson County) and has been a member of the NWTF for 10+ years.  He has held numerous offices in many different local chapters.  Bobby is now serving another term as a State Board member and is a District Director.  He alone has been responsible for signing up hundreds of new members, securing thousands of dollars in donations, and has given many hours of his time to promote the wild turkey.  His love and passion in the conservation of the wild turkey and hits habitat has been passed on to his family and friends.  He taught his son at a young age how to be an ethical hunter and fisherman, and the responsibility of conservation.  He has been exemplary in teaching conservation to not only his generation, but a second, and third generation as well.  His love of nature and wildlife, therein, has given him the edge of continuing a legacy of our hunting heritage and family values.  Bobby's dedication to the conservation of the Wild Turkey has helped the State of Kentucky in being one of the leading states in the nation.

Joe Broughton of Boyd County, and the Northeast Chapter of the KY-NWTF, is the 2004 recipient of the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award.  Broughton has championed the growth of the NWTF membership in his area of the state with dedication and leadership that is second to none.  He has held numerous offices in local chapters, is a state board officer and member, and has worked at the National Convention helping with registrations.  He has led his local chapter to become one of the top 5 chapters in raising money for the Superfund.  He has conducted youth seminars that have reached over 5,000 Jakes.  His leadership of the WITO events has helped his chapter attain the "Golden Hen" status numerous times.  He has been on the forefront in supplying equipment and supplies for the KDFWR.  He has volunteered his time for helping in rehab projects, youth education, Hunter's Care, and the Shriners.  He also promotes the Wheelin' Sportsman program through his donation of time and gifts.  His leadership in conservation and education projects inspires others to get involved as he leads from the front and pushes for results.  His diligence of taking on a task has garnered him respect from his peers across the state by selecting him as a recipient for this award which is the highest award given to NWTF volunteers in the Bluegrass State.

Alex Lea:  The 2005 Shelley Nickell Memorial Award winner is a longstanding member of the NWTF, having served in numerous capacities within our local and state organizations.  He served two terms as the President of the State Chapter, is a charter and sponsor member of his home chapter, sponsored with other chapters in the state, and has served as a District Director.  He is a "Roger Latham" recipient which is the highest award given to a volunteer in the NWTF.  He has been recognized as "The Sportsman of the Year", an award given by the League of Kentucky Sportsmen.  He is a member of numerous conservation organizations and takes an active role in each.  During his tenure as State Chapter president, the District Director program was started, which resulted in rapid growth of our membership and chapters across the state.  He helped to re-establish the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award in the mid 90's.  He supports conservation and education efforts of the NWTF which makes him a wildlife ambassador for the state of Kentucky.  We welcome Alex Lea as the 2005 Shelley Nickell Memorial Award recipient.

Jonathan Davis was presented the 2007 recipient of the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award.  Jon has been a member of the NWTF for over 30 years and is a Diamond Life Member.  He had been instrumental in the membership growth in our state.  Jon has served as master of ceremonies for Jim Strader seminars, turkey calling contests, seminars at Fort Know, as well as others.  His vast knowledge of the Wild Turkey has made him an invaluable asset to the Kentucky State Chapter.  Jon has served as local chapter president, State Chapter president, District Director, and State Board member.  He had been awarded the "Roger Latham Award" and inducted into the "Kentucky Turkey Hunters" Hall of Fame.  His support of the JAKES, FFA, 4-H, NASP, WITO and Wheelin' Sportsmen is second to none.  He was one of the first to help start and belong to an archery club in Kentucky.  He helped implement the KY/NWTF infrastructure and the banquet/chapter system as it exists today.  He taught many classes, in local schools, about the Wild turkey.  Jon's teaching of good conservation practices and ethical hunting parallels those that Mr. Shelley started around the turn of the 20th century.

J.L. Hendricks was the 2008 recipient of the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award and is a charter member of the first chapter formed in KY in 1973.  His memberships include Bronze Sponsor, Regular, Wheelin’ Sportsman, & Get in the Game.  He avidly supports our outreach programs by not only enlisting memberships, but also providing memberships for those who cannot afford one.  He has helped the local chapter achieve at least 100 Jakes memberships each year.  He and his entire family are members of the NWTF. He has served as Chapter President, Vice President, Jakes Coordinator, Wheelin’ Sportsman Coordinator, and Banquet Chairperson.  During the first banquets in the mid 70’s & early 80’s he was the backbone of ticket sales for the fledgling chapter.  He sold over 250 tickets for the second banquet which was held in 1974 at Barkley Lodge.  He has worked with the LBL in Trigg County and surrounding counties by providing labor and securing funds for habitat projects.  His love of the outdoors started when he was a youth and continues today.  When he returned from the Vietnam War he was in a body cast which did not deter him from continuing his service to others.  While in this cast, he would take kids hunting by wheeling them across frozen mud flats in his wheel chair so they could hunt water fowl.  He serves as an annual guide at Fort Campbell for soldiers and veterans.  He also guides for the Jakes during the spring turkey season and provides places for them to hunt.  He was the key contact person for the first “Wounded Warrior” spring turkey hunt in Trigg County in 2008.  He stresses hunting safety and ethics to his entire family which consists of 4 boys and 16 grandchildren.  He serves as a deacon in his church.  He is the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart.

The 2009 recipient of the Shelley Nickell Memorial Award was presented to Eddie Joiner.  Eddie has been a member of the NWTF since 1991, having branched out to another chapter that he helped form in 1999.  He has served as president, vice president, and JAKES Coordinator of his local chapter.  He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, the Conservation Board of his county, and the Kentucky Nature Conservancy.  Eddie's extensive work with and for the state, and local biologist, has garnered him a vast knowledge of how to better enhance the wildlife and its habitat.  He keeps up-to-date on farm bills, which enables him to relay to landowners good conservation practices so they can implement sound wildlife management.  He frequently contacts U.S. Congressional and State Legislative delegations in support of bills which are beneficial to the wild turkey as well as other wildlife.  Eddie has done extensive waterfowl and other wetland habitat development on his property and leased land.  He annually takes youth to tour the waterfowl nesting boxes and supervises the cleaning and replacement of boxes as needed.  He was one of the lead people in procuring land for WMAs in his county which are open for "Youth Only" spring turkey hunting.  He as assisted the KDFWR in trap site selection, baiting, trapping and banding mourning doves as part of a nationwide study.  He has done extensive work on his upland farms and leases, which includes controlled burnings and planting of warm season grasses.  He annually assists other landowners in these habitat practices, and participates in and is up-to-date on the turkey brood studies, as well as other wildlife.  He currently is working on the purchase of additional land for another WMA in his county.  Eddie annually hosts and provides guides and places for the youth who have no mentors or a place to hunt.  He was the lead person in hosting the first "Celebrity Youth Hunt" in his area, personally signs up 10 to 15 JAKES each year for the local chapter's banquet.  He teaches good wildlife management, hunting ethics, sportsmanship, and safe hunting to all youth, as well as adults.

I would like to thank the following people who helped me gather this information on our State Chapter. They are: David Hale, Harold Knight, Jerry Turner, Bob Smith, Joe Bland, the Nickell Family, and last (without whose help this would not have been possible) my wife, hunting and fishing partner, Pat Williams.