College freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, alumni and advisors all gathered from across the U.S. for NWTF’s Collegiate Summit during the NWTF’s 44th annual Convention and Sport Show.
Tyler Briggs, NWTF regional director for Alabama, and Scott Martin, NWTF director of field operations for the Southeast, began the summit by providing statistics regarding college students, hunting and conservation, informing summit attendees about the sharp decline of outdoors participation in their age group and how that could have serious implications for future conservation efforts.
Students are participating less, Briggs said, because the increase of distractions, lack of time, lack of knowledge and no one to show them how to hunt.
Briggs and Martin emphasized that the college market is not only an untapped market that could do great work for conservation, but that the bridge between the older generation of hunters and the younger generation needs to be forged so conservation across the U.S. can remain afloat.
Through thought-provoking and interactive discussions with summit attendees, Briggs and Martin were able to gain insight into what appeals to college students. Martin and Briggs hope to use what was gleaned from today’s summit as a way to tailor and curate ways of reaching out to college students to create collegiate NWTF chapters.
Many of the students expressed, from their perspective, ways by which they think to appeal to their contemporaries. Many summit attendees mentioned how meaningful it would be to visit NWTF headquarters for training sessions and have the opportunity to speak with NWTF CEO Becky Humphries and other NWTF staff.
Members of current NWTF collegiate chapters also shared ways they are currently trying to elicit more collegiate participation. One way that multiple chapter members mentioned was to make meetings more than just a meeting. Some of the collegiate chapters have been bringing wildlife officers and resource managers to their meetings to tie into students’ educational interests.
Steve Hoye, from The Truth marketing firm, let students know that education is first and foremost, but he spoke toward the NWTF’s desire to resonate with the younger generation to elevate conservation efforts to new heights.
Hoye challenged summit attendees to intrigue their peers about the NWTF with the phrase “I am a conservationist; therefore, I hunt.”