Don Heckman, Pennsylvania
Hometown: Camp Hill, Pa.
Home Chapter: Michaux Yellow Breeches
Sponsor Level: Diamond Life
Family: Has been married to Sandy Heckman, Women in the Outdoors member, for 41 years. They have two adult children, Tonya and Brenda.
Notable Fact: Has been an NWTF Pennsylvania member since the chapter's beginning 34 years ago, as a board member, treasurer, secretary and banquet chairman.
How did you get started with the NWTF?
I was asked to participate in the organizational meeting of the Pennsylvania State Chapter in June 1975. At that meeting, I was elected to the first board of directors for the Pennsylvania State Chapter. Being a young turkey hunter I wanted to learn more about the wild turkey, how to hunt the wild turkey, and what I could do to help this new NWTF state chapter get started and growing in Pennsylvania.
The NWTF's Pennsylvania Chapter, along with our local chapters and volunteers' accomplishments during the past 34 years, outline and document the success story of NWTF in Pennsylvania. From the beginnings of the NWTF, the state chapter's grassroots turkey hunters were given a new idea, a new mission to help wild turkeys, wildlife conservation and hunting. We have lived the NWTF mission statement. Those who follow us have a foundation to be proud of, and have the opportunity and challenge to continue growing the NWTF.
Why do you continue to support the NWTF?
Pretty much the same reasons I joined the NWTF 34 years ago. The NWTF provided a leadership role in wildlife conservation back in the late 1970s in Pennsylvania. Through those early years, I became entrenched in participating in the NWTF's Pennsylvania state chapter organization. Being a hunter, I learned as much as I could about the NWTF, along with the ideals and programs of this young wildlife conservation organization. I worked with my mentors to build and grow the NWTF and the Pennsylvania Chapter. As the years progressed, I took more leadership responsibilities at both the Michaux Yellow Breeches Local Chapter and the Pennsylvania State Chapter. I was immensely involved in membership growth, wild turkey management, legislative process and bringing new ideas to both the local and state chapters. Today, after 34 years on the Pennsylvania state chapter board and 28 years on the local chapter board, I hope I have contributed toward the NWTF's goals and outreach programs. I was at the start of many of these ideas and events throughout the years, helping grow and improve the state and local chapters. I have had many opportunities as an NWTF volunteer to give back to the organization, to wild turkey management and to hunting, and I was rewarded with new friends, new programs and new challenges. I believe together we have been successful, very successful here in Pennsylvania.
What NWTF programs do you feel are the most important?
I really like the NWTF's conservation programs for wild turkey management, which work for population expansion, habitat management and increased hunting opportunities. I also like that the NWTF promotes turkey hunting safety in everything they do, and how they reach out to introduce others to the outdoors through the outreach programs. Then there's the meetings and events, such as my local Hunting Heritage Banquet, the National Convention and the One Team One Voice leadership meeting, where we work and have fun. Finally, I love the way the NWTF tells the story of conservation, hunting and the wild turkey through news releases, the Web site and the magazines. The success story of the wild turkey, which includes the NWTF, can't be told enough across this great country.
What do you say to people when you're telling them about the NWTF?
I begin by answering any questions on what is the NWTF and what it does for wild turkey management, conservation and hunting. I then tell them about the outreach programs and about the many ways for them to participate with their families. I almost always have copies of Pennsylvania's Turkey Talk, or Turkey Call magazine or the NWTF At a Glance brochure that I can pass out and use as reference material. I also tell them about the NWTF and Pennsylvania chapter Web sites and the information both contain. Finally, I tell them, "let me sign you up as a new member and here is what you will receive."
Outside of hunting and the NWTF, what activities keep you busy?
Being recently retired, I have a new outlook on marriage, family and retirement, along with my honey do list. I now have an opportunity to learn how to relax, listen, learn and enjoy what the past 41 years have taught me as a believer in God, country, family and the NWTF. These days, I enjoy gardening, traveling, my wife and many family gatherings. I keep the quiet times for reading, hiking and watching wildlife, but I still enjoy talking with friends about wild turkey management, conservation, hunting and the NWTF.