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Howie Receives National Volunteer Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Michael Howie’s devotion to providing outdoor opportunities to individuals with mobility impairments and special needs earned him the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Volunteer of the Year Award from the National Wild Turkey Federation.

February 16, 20243 min read

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” Howie said. “Being the Illinois State Wheelin’ Sportsmen coordinator has been gratifying by allowing me to see the positive impact the program has on the disabled participants. I want to extend a thank you to all the great volunteers and donors who help me, because without them the Wheelin’ Sportsmen hunts would not be possible.”

Howie accepted the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Volunteer of the Year Award during the NWTF’s 48th annual Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.

A Gulf War veteran and retired firefighter, Howie became disabled when he burned his lungs fighting a house fire, but that does not slow him down; instead, it provides an avenue for connection to reach others.

Howie became an NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen member in 2015 when he participated in a Wheelin’ deer hunt. In 2019, when he heard that the Illinois State Wheelin’ Sportsmen volunteer coordinator had to step down and the program stood to go away, Howie stepped up to assume the leadership role so the program would continue at the state level.

Not only did he assume that role, but he and his wife Lisa also stepped up to be banquet chairman and treasurer, respectively, for their local chapter.

Since becoming the Illinois Wheelin’ coordinator, Howie has taken the program to new heights in the state. He works tirelessly to increase awareness of the program and continuously looks for new avenues to gain exposure for the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Program, including setting up a display at outdoor expos and traveling the state attending banquets to share his personal story as well as first-hand experiences of his events with the members so they will have a better understanding of how their contributions impact the lives of others through the Wheelin’ program.

In addition, he organizes three deer hunts in the fall and two turkey hunts in the spring every year, along with helping chapters organize their local Wheelin’ events when needed. In November 2023, Howie partnered with the United Special Sportsman Alliance to offer a deer hunt for critically ill children at Touch of Nature, in addition to his other two annual deer hunts.

He regularly holds fundraisers year-round to help cover the cost of his events to reduce the amount of money requested from the Super Fund. Howie is beyond passionate about the program and dedicates much of his personal time to growing it, often using his finances to offset expenses when necessary.

If his involvement with the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Program wasn’t enough, Howie wanted to become even more involved with the NWTF, so he ran for a seat on the Illinois State Board of Directors and was elected in January 2023.

“The outdoors is for everybody, and Michael demonstrates that with his willingness to ensure that anyone who is interested has the opportunity to partake in our outdoor traditions, no matter the challenges they must overcome,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “We are proud to recognize Michael with the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Volunteer of the Year Award for his unwavering passion for helping others experience the outdoors.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has positively impacted over 23 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested over $9 million into wild turkey research to guide the management of the wild turkey population and to ensure sustainable populations into perpetuity. The organization continues to deliver its mission by working across boundaries on a landscape scale through its Four Shared Values: clean and abundant water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and robust recreational opportunities. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF continues its work to provide Healthy Habitats. and Healthy Harvests. for future generations.

Filed Under:
  • Convention and Sport Show
  • Hunting Heritage