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02/15/2014

Illinois Couple Recognized for Conservation Service



Ken and Marcia Polhamus
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Marcia and Ken Polhamus of Galena, Ill., grew up a few blocks apart and pheasant hunted together after school. Forty years after they married, hunting is still a big part of their lives, and their dedication to conservation has earned them a national award.

The couple was honored with the C.B. McCleod Award during the NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn. MidwayUSA was the official show sponsor. The C.B. McCleod Award is given each year to an NWTF volunteer or volunteers who have dedicated his or her life to wildlife conservation.

The NWTF determined this year's award winners based on how their work strengthens the organization's new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. The Polhamuses serve as NWTF JAKES program coordinators and hunter safety instructors and help with their local NWTF chapter's Women in the Outdoors program - all activities that introduce new people to hunting and conservation.

They joined the NWTF Jo Daviess Longbeards Chapter about 10 years ago after they both harvested their first turkey during a mentored hunt. Now the couple serves as an example of how mentors can make a huge difference. Since joining the NWTF, the couple has become one of Illinois' greatest advocates for introducing youth and women to turkey hunting and the outdoors.

"Our hunts focus on families that don't have opportunities to hunt, don't come from a hunting background, or have never harvested a turkey," said Ken. "It's a great way to introduce hunting heritage to families. "Our hunts change more than the kids' lives; the parents become some of our best supporters."

The couple serves on the board of directors for the NWTF Illinois State Chapter. In 2013, they were inducted into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame. In 2012, they were nominated as one of six finalists for "Field and Stream" magazine's Heroes of Conservation Award. Despite their many accolades, the Polhamuses remain focused on the real reason they remain so involved in promoting hunting and conservation.

"We love seeing the excitement on the kids' faces, and the bonds they create while hunting," Marcia said. "We feel lucky to help them spend more time outside, and hope to inspire others to take someone hunting, start an event and get involved with conservation."

The NWTF's Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to give the NWTF more energy and purpose than ever. Through this national initiative, NWTF has committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million new hunters and open access to 500,000 new acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment.

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