Earl has been turkey hunting since the early 1970s. Last April, he bagged this nice South Dakota gobbler.
Home Chapter: Patoka River Longbeards — Princeton, Indiana
Titles: Indiana State Board Member, Super Fund Committee Secretary, Scholarship and Marketing Committee Member and JAKES Coordinator; Southern Indiana District Director; Patoka River Longbeards Chapter Treasurer, Banquet Chairman and JAKES Coordinator. Earl also teaches hunter education and is an archery instructor.
Family: Earl and his wife, Mary Beth, have been married for 34 years. They have three sons: James (33), Gregg (29) and Billy (27), and two grandsons, Kameron (4) and Ryder Lee (18 months).
Notable Fact: The Indiana NWTF's annual top volunteer award was named the Earl and Beth Griswold Volunteer Award in honor of their dedication to volunteering.
NWTF: Earl, what's your hometown? Can you tell us a little about your upbringing?
Earl Griswold: Princeton, Indiana, is where I put down roots after being born and raised in southern Illinois in the small community of Mill Shoals. The Little Wabash River is where I learned to hunt and fish at a very young age.
I spent most of my waking hours as a youth either in the sawmill helping my uncle or hunting and fishing. With seven younger brothers and sisters, it was a way of life and I learned quickly that hunting and fishing kept me out of trouble.
NWTF: How long have you been turkey hunting, and how did you get involved with the NWTF?
EG: I started turkey hunting in the early 1970s in southern Illinois. I became involved with the NWTF in 1999, when I helped to start our local chapter, the Patoka River Longbeards in Gibson County.
NWTF: What's so addictive about turkey hunting?
EG: What makes it addictive to me is getting the chance to be in the open country with nothing more than you and that great bird. The quiet time is so peaceful. Listening for that first familiar noise of a hen answering your call, or better yet, seeing the dance of a gobbler when he has found your decoy moving in the wind. Watching, waiting and wondering if he will move closer or strut away. Does this sound like an addiction? You bet!
NWTF: So how did your turkey season go last year, Earl? What do you think is in store for you this season?
EG: I was successful in harvesting longbeards in both Indiana and South Dakota in 2008. The weather in southern Indiana has been very contrary in 2009 — a few warm days, and then winter hits again. The turkeys have strutted early the past few years, so I'm looking for them to do the same this year with the ever-changing weather.
It's all a waiting game, and I will be there waiting for whatever the season has in store for me!
NWTF: What's your secret to hosting successful NWTF banquets and outreach events?
EG: There's no secret; you just have to have a great committee staff.
First you must have an organized coordinator and a willing staff. We are very fortunate to have both. My wife Mary Beth coordinates our banquet and our JAKES events and handles the registration.
At the Banquet and JAKES registration tables, Mary Beth and the committee staff members run the event with professionalism and get attendees in and out of registration with no delays; just a smile, a "welcome," and a "see you next year."
To me, this is very important to a successful event. The first and last impression can make or break your event. Making preparations before the date of the event and having staff ready to go is key to hosting a successful event.
This year's banquet was set up in about four hours and taken down in a little over an hour. The JAKES event had 29 staff members ranging from Committee Members, Conservation Officers, 4-H Shooting Sports Instructors, Hunter Education Instructors, and again they were prepared and ready to go when the morning arrived.
Our great supporting staff makes my job as chairperson or coordinator easy, fun and rewarding.
NWTF: That's great to hear. What's the best part about being an NWTF member?
EG: The best part is the friendships we've made and supporting one of the best conservation youth programs available. The JAKES Program is both my wife and I's heart and soul.
We find the program contains everything we support and believe in. Our youth and their future in the outdoors is, and will be for a long time, what makes us work for the NWTF.
NWTF: Earl, why should people join the NWTF?
EG: Getting involved is the only way we will ever see things continue or change. People can talk the talk or they can walk the walk. It is not going to change the world if one person does not join and support the large number of members the NWTF has, however, one person can change the way things are perceived by others around us if they do join. We learn by doing, and actions are the only way things get done.
NWTF: Anything else you'd like to mention?
EG: The state of Indiana has a lot of hard-working volunteers that support the NWTF, and I just want them to know how important their memberships and opinions are to us. Letting members know about our Super Fund and where the money goes is important as well.
Thanks for the opportunity; I appreciate it. I don't do this for the fame or glory, but it is always nice when someone notices your hard work!