Matthew Lea, Kentucky
Mathew Lea (pictured right) brings a youthful perspective to Kentucky's NWTF state board of directors and can thank his dad, Alex (pictured left), for getting him involved with the NWTF at an early age.
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Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
Home Chapter: Derby City Chapter, LaGrange, Ky.
Special Information: Matthew is a junior at the University of Louisville, studying mechanical engineering.
Family: Matthew's mother Susan is a constant source of inspiration, and his father Alex is an accomplished turkey hunter and Matthew's mentor for all things conservation.
NWTF: Matthew, what sparked your interest in the outdoors?
Matthew Lea: My father tells stories about changing my diapers while he was out scouting for upcoming hunting seasons. I joined the Boy Scouts of America about the same time I was old enough to go hunting with him. Somewhere between hunting and backpacking, I fell in love with the forests of Kentucky.
NWTF: How long have you been involved with the NWTF?
ML: I'm told I was signed up for the JAKES program when I was three days old.
NWTF: Tell us about your involvement with the NWTF.
ML: I've participated in numerous JAKES events, attended dozens of local chapter banquets, several state chapter banquets and many national conventions. This summer I began my first term on the Kentucky State Chapter Board of Directors. I'm excited to still be working for the JAKES program now that I'm older than 18.
NWTF: When you think back on your JAKES experiences, what's your favorite memory from an event?
ML: I was about 16 and had recently completed the canoeing merit badge with my Boy Scout troop. I was in a canoe with two younger boys at an Xtreme JAKES event when one of the boys said he was bored. Without hesitation, I flipped the canoe over and showed them how to get back in without flipping the canoe again. Every time I run into those boys, it's the first thing they bring up.
NWTF: What do you think the biggest obstacle is to getting youth in the outdoors?
ML: Distractions. Today's children are bombarded with information and advertisements unlike any other generation before them. Very little of it is about hunting or the outdoors. They think that conservation is using low-energy light bulbs.
NWTF: What do you think the NWTF and its partners can do to get more youth involved in the outdoors?
ML: Start them young. If you wait until children are 11 or 12 years old, you've waited too late. It's difficult for anyone who isn't their age to catch the attention of children ages 11and up. Anyone with children in this age range can tell you that.
NWTF: What did you learn from JAKES events that has helped you in your adult life?
ML: I learned the value of conservation and that our environment is not just a place we can romp about and have fun. Our environment is a resource that must be understood and managed so future generations can enjoy it as much as we have.
NWTF: What would you like to accomplish while serving on the state board of directors?
ML: I'd like to get more involved in the JAKES program and bring a somewhat youthful perspective to the table. Since I'm still a young man myself, I hope to help the organization better relate to a younger crowd.