NWTF Board of Directors
Dr. Robert Dettmer is a Diamond Life Sponsor who has worked tirelessly to promote wild turkey conservation and defend our hunting heritage since becoming and NWTF member in 1978. He has served at every level of the NWTF, including its national board of directors, on which he has served since 1995. He is a past president and chairman of the NWTF.
His efforts have been widely recognized with a number of state and national awards, the two most prestigious being the Roger Latham Award in 1989 and the C.B. McLeod Award in 1999.
"Doc" is a retired family physician, a fervent patriot and a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
This lifelong hunter and angler is a life member of the NRA, a longtime sustaining member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and a supporter of Wildlife Forever.
With never wavering enthusiasm for the NWTF and a passion for its mission, he is honored to serve on the national board of directors.
Harlan Starr has been a dedicated turkey hunter and NWTF volunteer since 1984. He has been a member of the national board of directors since 2008, having served on numerous committees.
Harlan helped start the Coosa Valley Chapter in Rome, Ga., and the Northeast Alabama Chapter.
He served on the Alabama Board of Directors for 10 years. He has worked as local chapter president, banquet chairman and district director. He has coordinated JAKES and Women in the Outdoors outreach events and has provided opportunities for people with disabilities to hunt on his farm.
“As a member of the national board, I’m proud to represent the NWTF’s volunteers who work so hard to protect our hunting heritage,” Starr said. “I understand the issues that face state and local chapters and members, and will continue to ensure they have a voice at the national level.”
Robert Higginbotham has been an NWTF member since the early 1980s. He served as founder of his local East Mississippi Chapter in 1992 and has served locally as banquet chairman and chapter president.
Robert served on the Mississippi State NWTF Chapter board of directors from 1992 until he was elected to the national board of directors in 2008. He served two terms as vice president of the Mississippi Chapter and also served as president.
He also has served as secretary of the national board and currently serves as treasurer.
Robert is the Imaging Director at Winston Medical Center in his hometown of Louisville, Mississippi. He and his wife Carol are members at First Presbyterian Church where he has served as a Deacon and currently serves as an Elder.
"It is truly a blessing to serve our volunteers. I am thankful for the opportunity, but realize that with the blessings and opportunity comes a responsibility to listen to and communicate with our members. The NWTF's mission and our "family" make us the best conservation organization there is."
Bryan Perry has been an avid turkey hunter and dedicated NWTF volunteer for more than 25 years. He currently serves as the secretary of the National board and chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws committee.
Bryan is a charter member of the Franklin County Longbeards chapter in Louisburg, North Carolina, where he continues to volunteer. He has served as local chapter president, banquet chairman and a district director. Bryan was a North Carolina state board member for 10 years, serving four as state chapter president.
He and his wife Tammy have been married for 29 years. And their children Chelsea, Seth, Haley and Maci, have grown up as part of the NWTF.
“As do all volunteers, I have a passionate belief in the mission of the NWTF. As a fellow volunteer, I understand the importance of NWTF volunteers. As a national board member, I recognize it's my duty to responsibly serve the NWTF. I use these ideals as my compass in representing the NWTF and our volunteers on the National Board.”
For more than 30 years, Ronnie Reagin has strived to support the mission and goals of the NWTF. Founding and serving as president of the Double Gobble Chapter in Moultrie, he takes pride that it has been a Golden Gobbler Chapter since established and is a Diamond Life Chapter. He has been a member of the Georgia State Chapter Board for 14 years, where he has served as vice president and is currently in his second term as president. Reagin is a Diamond Life sponsor of the NWTF and a Life Member of the NRA.
Reagin is a licensed real estate agent and auctioneer in Florida and Georgia. He's been married to Susan for 41 years and has two children and four grandchildren. He serves as a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Moultrie.
"I pledge to make sure your voices are represented on the national level and respectfully ask for your support," Reagin said. "Together we will fulfill our mission to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt."
In 2008 Riley Creek Lumber merged with Bennett Forest Industries to form Idaho Forest Group.
Based in Coeur d’Alene, IFG grows, harvests, manufactures, and distributes lumber and other wood by-products to customers in the United States and abroad. The company emphasizes a talented workforce of more than 1,000 employees and 2,000 partner contractors. IFG’s mission is to “enhance the lives and livelihoods of our employees, customers, and partners and the communities in which we operate by providing the earth’s best renewable building products.”
Brinkmeyer has decades of involvement in industry organizations. He is a former chair and current member of the Executive Committee of the Softwood Lumber Association, a past chairman of the Western Wood Products Association, and the former president of the Intermountain Forest Industry Association. He has been a member of the Lakes Commission, a member of the Negotiating Committee for the Coalition for Fair Trade Lumber Imports, and a U.S. delegate to the European Softwood Conferences.
Brinkmeyer’s commitment to education includes service on U of I forestry’s advisory council and as a director at Buena Vista University. He contributes generously to U of I academic programs and initiatives, recently supporting a lecture series in the College of Natural Resources. His community and cultural leadership includes sponsorship of the Festival at Sandpoint and the Idaho Humanities Council lecture series. He and his wife, Vicki, live in northern Idaho. He has two sons.
Jim Cox has been a dedicated member since 1986 and is a Legacy Life Sponsor and a Lifetime member. He served as the NWTF’s chief legal counsel for more than a decade and was previously appointed to the board of directors in 2008.
Nelson Estess started volunteering with the NWTF Pike-Amite Chapter in 2001. Estess said he has enjoyed working with the people of the NWTF and has found the NWTF mission aligns with his view of what a conservation organization should be.
Born and raised in Magnolia, Mississippi, where he now resides with his son, Ethan, and daughter, Addison, Estess attended Southwest Mississippi Community College as well as the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi School of Law.
As a former 12th Judicial Circuit assistant district attorney in Hattiesburg, Estess returned to Magnolia to begin his own law practice and was appointed as municipal judge for the city of McComb. Feeling the urge to try additional criminal cases, he left the bench and became a part-time assistant public defender for Pike County while maintaining his practice. He is also associated with the Honea Law Firm in McComb.
As for his work with the NWTF, he became chapter president in 2007, and in 2012, he was elected to the Mississippi State Chapter board. In 2014, he was elected state chapter president. Under his leadership, the local chapter has increased their gross revenue as well as their net revenue more than three fold.
The NWTF has recognized his local and state chapter for their efforts, including having at least one L.A. Dixon Award winner for the last four years.
Estess and the state chapter board have helped increase Mississippi’s match ratio from 4-to-1 to 11-to-1. His local chapter also holds one of the largest JAKES events in the state each year, and Estess attends many banquets across the state to help support other volunteers.
Estess said he believes the NWTF should be as transparent as possible and should be mission centric. He also believes the best way to improve an organization is from within and is proud of the current direction of the NWTF and wants to play a part in its continued success.
Mike Evans, a Centurian Life Member, has served on the national board of directors since 2011. He is chairman of the Building committee and a member of the Constitution and By-Laws, Audit, Hunting Heritage, Finance, Strategic Planning and Development committees.
Evans served as Oklahoma state chapter secretary, vice-president, and president for five years. He continues to serve on three local chapter banquet committees — The Camo and Pearls, Boggy Bottom Longbeards and Little Dixie chapters. Evans was instrumental in developing the Oklahoma Lt. Governor’s Turkey Hunt and continues to serve on that committee.
Evans and his wife, Becky, have been married for 49 years and have two children and four grandchildren.
“I am thankful my family has always had a rich conservation and hunting legacy,” said Evans. “To have the opportunity to serve and represent the greatest group of volunteers in conservation is a high honor. I am truly excited about our new initiative, Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.”
Marvin Hartley is a Guardian life Sponsor of the NWTF. He has been a dedicated NWTF member for more than 40 years and has served on the national board for 15 years.
During his terms as national director, he has attended 100 percent of the board meetings. He has served as Secretary, Vice President, and President. He serves on several committees and task forces and currently serves as National Board Chairman.
Marvin also has served on the Florida State Board of Directors and as the Jacksonville Chapter president and Banquet Chairman for several years. He was the first District Director for North Florida. His wife, Edie, has served as President of the Florida State Chapter and is President and Banquet Chairman for the Jacksonville Chapter. They are members of several conservation organizations as well as local gun clubs in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Marvin and his family hunt, fish and enjoy outdoor activities together. he also serves as President of his local hunting club.
Scott Hill is a past president of the New Jersey State Chapter and founding member of the Highlands Chapter. He has been an active NWTF member for 25 years and currently is a Diamond Life sponsor.
As a board member, Hill currently sits on six committees, chairing one of them. He also belongs to the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance. Both groups help defend our hunting and angling rights in the state. Hill also attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
"I am very honored to have served a term on the NWTF National Board. It has been a privilege to meet so many of our awesome volunteers and be part of the great accomplishments by our members," Hill said.
Mike McKernan is the South Dakota State Chapter Board President for the National Board of Directors for the NWTF. He has been a member since 1999 and has served on the state board of directors since 2004. He currently serves as the district director for Eastern South Dakota, in addition to his position as state president.
Since becoming a member of the NWTF, McKernan helped to start the Whetstone Gobblers chapter, which is one of the top chapters in the state, and he currently serves as chapter president.
He was involved with Eastern wild turkey releases in Grant County, South Dakota, where he resides, and is currently assisting with a study of Eastern turkeys by a student from the University of West Virginia. McKernan has been instrumental in getting 501 Auctions, the online NWTF banquet accounting system, off the ground in South Dakota.
Besides his membership on the NWTF Board of Directors, McKernan also serves on the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks’ Turn in Poachers Board of Directors, and the state board of directors for the South Dakota Grassland Coalition.
McKernan is an actively involved volunteer in his county with the 4-H Shooting Sports Program and is a hunt safe instructor. He was the 2004 South Dakota NWTF Volunteer of the Year and a 2013 inductee into the South Dakota NWTF Hall of Fame.
McKernan said he is thankful to be “serving on the board to further our mission, helping to conserve our resources and working with the number one organization in the country.”
Marcia Polhamus has been a dedicated member of the NWTF since 2004 and is a Diamond Centurion Life Sponsor. She and her husband, Ken, serve as JAKES coordinators and organize 30 annual Illinois JAKES mentored youth turkey hunts at the Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center in Pecatonica, Illinois.
A volunteer master hunter education instructor, Polhamus has made it her mission to introduce youth to the excitement of hunting. She also taught safe hunting practices and conservation stewardship to adults as she served as the chairperson for numerous NWTF WITO events.
Polhamus has been recognized at the state and national levels with numerous awards, which include the Marvin Henderson Award as top Illinois NWTF volunteer in 2015, C.B. McLeod Award winner in 2014, induction into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame in 2013, and finalist in the 2012 Field & Stream Heroes of Conservation program.
Now retired, Polhamus and her family ran a successful drywall company for 30 years. She has been married for 44 years and has two children and five grandchildren.
Although she lives to mentor new hunters, she loves to turkey hunt, archery elk hunt in New Mexico and deer hunt at her home in Galena.
“I truly believe in the NWTF mission and the Save the Habitat Save the Hunt initiative,” Polhamus said. “I hope I can share my passion and continue to influence youth and adults to carry on our hunting tradition well into the future!”
Phil Savage has been a dedicated NWTF volunteer for more than 20 years and is a founding member of two Golden Gobbler Chapters - Elmore County and the Black Belt Sponsor. He currently serves on the Sipsey Strutters Chapter committee. His NWTF resume includes serving as a local chapter president and banquet chairman. Phil also served as a director on the Alabama State Chapter board for 15 years. serving as vice president for four years and president for four years. He was elected to the NWTF national board of directors in 2018.
Phil was instrumental in the Alabama NWTF Chapter obtaining an Alabama NWTF distinctive license plate, which has generated thousands of dollars to further the NWTF mission in Alabama.
Phil is a graduate of Auburn University. He retired in 2013 from the USDA Farm Service Agency where he spent nearly 35 years in ag lending in Alabama.
He and his wife Kathy are Diamond Life members. They have one daughter and two grandsons.
Parks Shackelford grew up on a farm in Louisiana and moved to Virginia about 25 years ago. He is a lifelong avid hunter and fisherman and is a Diamond Life Sponsor. Shackelford was elected to the NWTF National Board for his first term in 2011 and has attended every board meeting. He has been most active on the Conservation and Hunting Heritage committees, and has a particular interest in the NWTF’s relationship with and participation in federal and state government agencies and programs. Shackelford is a member of numerous conservation organizations and his local gun club.
Although not a product of the chapter leadership system, Shackelford strongly supports the NWTF’s local and state chapter structure and recognizes our volunteers are the strength of the organization and their dedication is what makes NWTF so unique. Shackelford is committed to reaffirming our public image as “the hunter’s advocate.”
Parks and his wife, Julie Anna, spend much of their time raising three young children and teaching them to love hunting and the outdoors.
Peggy Anne Vallery is an accomplished hunter and conservationist who wants to use her experience to further the impact of the NWTF. More than 20 years into her membership, she is a past president and former chairman of the NWTF National Board.
One of the greatest accomplishments in her NWTF career is keeping past national board members involved in the organization.
This Vanguard Life sponsor of the NWTF has spent many hours in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the NWTF, protecting our Second Amendment rights and preserving our nation's hunting heritage.
Her hunting career has taken her across the globe, including: Africa, Europe, China, Australia, Mexico and North America, but says wild turkey are her favorite. She's completed her wild turkey World Slam.
Vallery is involved in NWTF programs across the country, but her devotion to wildlife and hunting extends beyond our ranks, having served on numerous boards for wildlife and conservation groups. She was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2010.