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Keck Receives National Recognition as Top Communicator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former NWTF CEO Rob Keck received the NWTF’s Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year Award for his efforts sharing the NWTF’s story to conserve the wild turkey and preserve our hunting heritage.

February 15, 20243 min read

“There is no greater conservation story to tell than the return of the wild turkey and the role that NWTF played in making that happen,” Keck said. “What a privilege and a distinct honor to be recognized with this prestigious award. Having Tom Kelly's name attached to it adds to the pride and integrity of its importance. I sincerely thank the Federation for this recognition, but more importantly thank the many volunteers and professionals that enabled this story to be told. Having shared this conservation success with millions, through so many different platforms of speeches, of national television, radio, video, and print media for over four decades, it is clear, together we must do an even better job of selling the sizzle of conservation. As hunter-conservationists, we have an obligation to the next generation for all of us to communicate this remarkable story and how it continues to improve the quality of life for all Americans.”

Formerly known as the Communicator of the Year, the NWTF renamed the award in 2018 to honor Tom Kelly, the poet laureate of turkey hunting and author of the iconic Tenth Legion, published in 1973.

As former CEO of the NWTF, working for the wild turkey from 1978 to 2008, and Conservation and Hunting Ambassador for Bass Pro Shops, Keck remains a driving force in conservation, promoting our hunting heritage, advocating for hunters and the wise use of our natural resources. He helped fuel the return of the wild turkey in North America during the 1980s and ‘90s as turkey hunting popularity rose and, with it, more funding for conservation.

Keck influenced conservation and natural resource policy issues, having been appointed and serving on the Sporting Conservation Council under President George W. Bush, advising both the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on conservation matters. Keck hosted the NWTF’s award-winning national television program, “Turkey Call,” and served as executive producer for the NWTF’s other two national TV programs, “Turkey Country” and “Get in the Game.”  From March of 1977 to March of 2008 he was a featured columnist for Turkey Call magazine. He founded the Grand National Calling Championships beginning in 1977, kickstarting the NWTF Convention and Sport Show. Keck is known for being the first hunter to ever complete the wild turkey Super Slam – harvesting a bird in all 49 states with a huntable turkey population – plus Canada, Mexico, Guatemala and New Zealand.

“Rob has helped transform the NWTF into what it is today and was a leader in driving the wild turkey restoration effort prior to the turn of the century,” NWTF co-CEO Jason Burckhalter said. “And while his incredible legacy speaks for itself, we also want to honor his work for continuing to communicate the importance of the NWTF mission and its benefit to our everyday lives as Americans. He has done this for decades through various mediums that have brought countless individuals into our great organization and, frankly, has shaped our organization. We are proud to honor him with our Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year Award.”  

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
  • Healthy Habitats
  • Healthy Harvests
  • Hunting Heritage
  • Wildlife Management