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02/11/2012

Texas couple recognized for conservation service

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Photos and interviews for media available upon request through Josh Fleming.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dale and Kitty Bounds, of Lufkin, Texas, were honored with the C.B. McCleod Award during the NWTF’s National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn.

The C.B. McCleod Award is given each year to an NWTF volunteer who has dedicated his or her life to wildlife conservation. This year, a husband-wife team was the recipient.

Dale joined the NWTF in 1987. He was a videographer for the U.S. Forest Service and tasked with documenting the first effort to reintroduce Eastern wild turkeys to east Texas, in the Davy Crockett National Forest.

“It was my first exposure to the NWTF,” Dale said of the experience. “James Earl Kennamer [NWTF chief conservation officer] brought the turkeys from South Carolina via Delta Airlines. After that, I was hooked.”

Dale returned home that day and chartered the Piney Woods Chapter, which has become a stalwart NWTF chapter for Texas, according to Shawn Roberts, NWTF district field supervisor for the eastern portion of the Lone Star State.

“The Piney Woods Chapter has been a trend setter and bar raiser for the many local NWTF chapters in the state in the country even,” said Roberts. “They were the first chapter to raise $1 million for conservation. They were the first to recruit 100 NWTF sponsor members at a single fund-raising banquet. They are a model chapter that stays involved year-round, hosting outdoors events for women, children and people with disabilities. They also participate in the NWTF’s Turkey Hunters Care program, providing frozen turkeys to area needy families around the holidays.”

Most of the chapter’s involvement was initiated under the leadership of Dale, and when he married Kitty 15 years ago, she couldn’t help but get involved.

Dale served as president of the Piney Woods Chapter for eight years. During his tenure, he and Kitty attended an information workshop on the NWTF’s Women in the Outdoors program, which introduces women ages 14 and older to various outside activities.

Kitty organized the first Women in the Outdoors event in Texas and coordinated it for four years before handing off the torch. The event is still going strong.

But the passion that drives Piney Woods Chapter volunteers and Dale is wild turkey conservation and preserving our country’s hunting heritage.

“I never had the opportunity to hunt wild turkeys until the NWTF brought them to east Texas,” said Dale. “Now I can hunt them in my home county.”

According to Dale, hunting turkeys in spring is like a renewal of the spirit something he hoped one day his grandchildren would experience.

“That came to pass sooner than I expected,” he said. “I have seen with my own eyes the return of the Eastern wild turkey to Texas. Because of the NWTF, I have been a part of this conservation success story. And now I’m being honored for taking part in something that has meant so much to me already.”

Dale continues to serve Texas on its state board and is the editor of the state’s NWTF newsletter.

“Dale told me when I first became involved in the NWTF, ‘I will never have enough money to make a difference in conservation, but I will commit the time. Money can be replaced, but time is a precious thing to give up. You can never get time back,’” said Roberts. “The NWTF would not be the success it is today without the efforts of this man. He’s an inspiration and a model of grassroots conservation.”

For his time, and that of his biggest supporter, Kitty, the NWTF gives its thanks.

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