James Wattenbarger, Tennessee
Hometown: Crossville, Tenn.
Hometown Chapter: Plateau Longbeards Chapter, Crossville, Tenn.
NWTF involvement: James is the vice president of the Plateau Longbeards Chapter and serves on every committee. He has been an NWTF member for more than five years. James and his wife Kim have a daughter, Kennetha (16) and a son, Nathan (13).
Tennessee's James Wattenbarger with his family.
NWTF: James, what value do you find in being an NWTF member?
James Wattenbarger: I am proud to be a member of the NWTF and a member of the Plateau Longbeards Chapter. I really put my heart into this. When my father taught me to hunt and fish, he taught me to respect the land and the animals and take only what we could eat. Now I am able to pass those values on to the next generation. I love what we are doing and what the NWTF stands for.
NWTF: You're a big supporter of the NWTF's JAKES outreach program. What do you think it takes to get youth hooked on the outdoors?
JW: Spending time with them, taking them hunting and giving them the freedom to ask questions. I encourage people to take children fishing with only the child's pole and let the time spent together be only about the child. We should spend more time taking youth places and teaching them about the outdoors. We have a great responsibility to the next generation.
NWTF: Your chapter hosts a successful JAKES event every year. What are some things you do to help make your chapter's JAKES events the best they can be?
JW: We get folks involved who really want to be there to serve and mentor the children. We critique each event and see what we need to do to make the event a better experience. We encourage our committee members to constantly think outside the box and come up with new ideas and better ways to involve each child. The events are successful only if we remember who we are serving -- the JAKES members.
NWTF: What fuels your passion to donate so much time and energy to the NWTF?
JW: The excitement the kids have, the stories they take home and being a part of the entire experience are what fuels my passion. We are fortunate to enjoy the great blessings that have been given to us. It is our responsibility to share these opportunities with others.
NWTF: Why do you think it is important to sign up new NWTF members at JAKES events?
JW: The JAKES program gives youth an opportunity to experience the outdoors on a different level. When youth become JAKES members, they gain a sense of ownership and feel like they are a part of something. They not only get to come to JAKES events each year, but they also get the JAKES Magazine throughout the year, which allows them to see what others are doing across America.
Adding new NWTF members gives us all new opportunities and more power to push for what we want to see accomplished through legislation. When we can speak to others and say our membership is more than 350,000 strong, people really start to listen.
We members must each take ownership in the NWTF. Experience one hunt or one JAKES, Women in the Outdoors or Wheelin' Sportsmen event and feel the joy that radiates from the participants' experiences. The rewards are priceless, and the memories are forever.