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NWTF Chapters Earn Partnership Award at National Convention

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NWTF presented partnership awards to local chapters that collaborated with individuals, companies, agencies or nongovernmental organizations to host hunting heritage events, including JAKES, Wheelin’ Sportsmen or Women in the Outdoors events.

February 17, 20244 min read

Representatives from NWTF chapters in Minnesota, Illinois, Virginia, Texas and Wisconsin each received the NWTF Partnership Award for hosting successful collaborative events during the 48th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak   

This year’s winners received the Partnership Award for the following:

Franklin County Longbeards: JAKES event

There were 215 youth and 65 volunteers in attendance for the chapter’s exceptional JAKES event. The event consisted of 24 learning stations that covered archery, turkey calling, shooting, bicycle safety, fishing, canoeing, tree stand safety and boating safety. These stations also included many stations from partners, including the tracks and furs station by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, plant identification by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, tree identification by the Department of Forestry, K-9 demonstration by the Department of Wildlife Resources, and a snake presentation by Stuart Jones. Many parents were excited to get out and have their kids learn and experience new aspects of the outdoors. This event continues to build on partnerships, banquets, Wheelin' Sportsmen and Women in the Outdoors events, and attracting new committee members to the NWTF chapter.

“Franklin County Longbeards’ top priority has always been in its JAKES outreach,” said Tim Burton, NWTF Franklin County Longbeards volunteer. “Our 25-plus years of experience hosting JAKES events has led to many great partnerships within our community. It has also contributed to our growth as a chapter. In fact, the JAKES event has inspired additional outreach programs. We have participated in over a dozen JAKES, Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin' Sportsmen outreach events in 2023 alone. Currently, these outreach events are responsible for all chapter growth and increases in banquet dollars, which allows us to do even more in our community to build and support our hunting heritage.”

Minnesota State Chapter – Minnesota Veterans Outdoors Program

Each year, the NWTF Minnesota State Chapter partners with the Minnesota Veterans Outdoors Program to host two pivotal events: the disabled veterans turkey hunt in April and the disabled veterans deer hunt in October. These events honor and support those who have served their country with unparalleled dedication by providing disabled veterans with an opportunity to experience the joy of recreational hunting and the camaraderie of fellow veterans. Nearly two decades ago, the Minnesota State Chapter took the initiative to launch the turkey hunt in collaboration with the Minnesota Veterans Outdoors Program. Today, these hunts have become an essential opportunity for disabled veterans to engage in safe and fulfilling recreational activities, and many of these veterans look forward to these events each year. Currently, the NWTF Minnesota State Chapter Super Fund allocates $4,500 for the turkey hunt and $2,000 for the deer hunt annually. The 18th annual turkey hunt, which took place on April 25 and 26 last year, welcomed 35 participants. Meanwhile, the 33rd annual October deer hunt saw the participation of 50 veterans, with more than 100 volunteers supporting these events. Since its inception, the program has served over 3,800 veterans, creating invaluable experiences and fostering camaraderie amongst participants.

“It’s really rewarding to see what the disabled veterans get to experience through this program,” said Ralph Warzecha, NWTF Minnesota Save the Hunt coordinator. “The heart of these events lies in the dedication and generosity of the volunteers who come together to make them truly special. This award is a testament to all of the great volunteers who make it happen.”

NWTF Texas chapters Kaufman County Double Beards, Cross Timbers Chapter and the Cottonwood Creek Chapter

This is the fifth year the local NWTF chapters have held this hunt for four disabled youths between the ages of 13-18. The hunt is on 2,400 acres of Army Corp of Engineers land, closed to hunting except for this event. The hunt serves as a management hunt and a mentoring opportunity, consisting of two morning and two evening deer hunts. This has become a heartwarming event for everyone involved and continues to foster partnerships with the Corp of Engineers, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the Texas Hunt for the Cure Group.

Wisconsin WITO Chapter

The Wisconsin WITO Chapter held its engaging event in August 2023 and garnered 127 NWTF WITO members. The event hosts an array of outdoor-related activities and brings in participants from across Wisconsin and beyond.

“The best partnership award is a great feeling to know that other organizations share the same passion as our community of outdoor women,” said Tracy Neuburg, NWTF Wisconsin WITO volunteer. “The feeling of empowerment then continues beyond our event as it expands into many other individuals and enterprises, whom we have worked with. Which, in turn, continues on the hunting heritage, exemplifying the National Wild Turkey Federation.”

Three Forks Wild Turkey Chapter

The three-day deer hunt for disabled participants was held at Touch of Nature, which encompasses 3,400 acres in the Shawnee National Forest. This was the largest event to date with 40 hunters, 17 mentors and 13 volunteers who came from Illinois and beyond. Mentors and/or helpers were provided for those hunters who were not accompanied by one. Side by sides and necessary equipment were provided to hunters where needed, creating a positive, memorable experience. Evenings provided a time for hunters to socialize, share their stories and enjoy the camaraderie. Volunteers processed the deer that were harvested on site. Some volunteers who arrived early hunted prior to the event and donated their deer so every hunter took home venison. The impact this hunt has on the participants, mentors, helpers and organizers is empowering and will last a lifetime.

“We are greatly honored to receive this award,” said Michael Howie, NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen coordinator. “It is rewarding to work together to provide an opportunity for the disabled of all ages to get outdoors and experience the hunt, some for the very first time. We look forward to growing the Wheelin’ Sportsmen program and continuing to build partnerships with other agencies and organizations in the future.”

“Productive partnerships are vital to delivering our mission,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “Thanks to our Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia and Minnesota chapters for collaborating and increasing NWTF’s partnerships in communities throughout their states.”  

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 Harvests
  • Hunting Heritage