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NWTF Success Stories

NWTF Chapters Earns Best Inaugural Event Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three NWTF chapters accepted the organization’s Best Inaugural Event award during the NWTF’s 48th annual Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.

February 17, 20244 min read

The NWTF Maryland State Chapter won the award for its new Women in the Outdoors event; the NWTF Massachusetts Tri-County Chapter won the award for its JAKES event; and the NWTF Minnesota Aitken Gobblers won the award for its Youth Day.

The Best Inaugural Event Award is presented to chapters that have hosted an exceptional first-time hunting heritage event, including JAKES, Wheelin’ Sportsmen and Women in the Outdoors.

Maryland Women in the Outdoors Event

Co-hosted by the NWTF Maryland State Chapter and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the recently held Women in the Outdoors event was the first of its kind in the state. Over 50 women showed up to learn about wild game cooking and processing, shotgun patterning, fishing, archery and, of course, turkey hunting. What made the event particularly relevant to R3 efforts (recruit, retain, reactivate new hunters) was that the MDNR helped vet each of the participants, ensuring those who were new to hunting or those who had never hunted before were given priority to attend the event. 

“As Maryland’s Outreach coordinator, I've always felt there was a need for more events just for women in our state, but the demand far exceeded my expectations,” Russ Leith said. “The NWTF’s WITO program is a vital tool in introducing women to the outdoors and hunting, and they otherwise may have not had the opportunity to pursue these activities on their own. The Maryland State Chapter is honored to be recognized by the NWTF for our event that promises to be even better this year.”

Tri-County JAKES Day

The event was recently held at the Wrentham Sportsman’s Club in Plainville and saw over 30 JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) participate in the seven activity stations.

At the .22 rifle range, youth learned firearm safety and fired more than 5,000 rounds, which were donated to the event thanks to generous community supporters. Other stations also highlighted the kids’ enthusiasm and contributions from the community, including fly fishing, hunter skills, ax throwing, and craft and carpentry stations.

“What started out as a conversation between a couple of guys in a kitchen about the need to build something to increase awareness and introduce youth to the benefits of the outdoors, turned into reality a little more than a year later,” said Chuck Dupont, NWTF Massachusetts State Chapter president. “Several volunteers got together to plan an event that not only would educate, but would inspire young people to get outdoors, and the Tri-County Strutters Extreme JAKES Event was born. We put a call-to-action out to find people who were willing to help with this event, and sure enough, we had an overflow of people wanting to help, and we had a true collaboration between individuals offering skills and funds, Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife offering mentors and resources, Wrentham Sportsmen’s Club offering a location and the NWTF for support. Winning this award shows the 50-plus mentors that their hard work was not only acknowledged but appreciated and will be used as a motivator to evolve the event into something even greater."

Aitken County Gobblers Youth Day

The NWTF Aitkin Gobblers Chapter kicked off its first JAKES Day with over 70 kids attending for a day of learning all the joys of the outdoors.

The Aitkin Gobblers JAKES Day event included numerous learning stations where kids spoke with experts and engaged with the activities at each station, including hunter and shooting safety led by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, .22 shooting, fishing, BB gun shooting, trapping, turkey calling and more.

Quaker Boy Calls provided all the participants with a turkey call package that included slate, mouth and push-button calls. NWTF Minnesota members set up a station to help the kids learn how to use turkey calls ahead of the upcoming spring season. 

The Aitkin Gobblers and local businesses donated money for additional prizes for the kids, including 14 guns, dog-proof traps, compound bows and more.

“The youth day is a huge part of the Aitkin Gobblers mission,” said Jason Wold, Aitken County Gobblers Chapter president. “The NWTF mission is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of our hunting heritage. We believe that the youth are the key to the first part of our mission (conservation of the wild turkey) because without the youth the conservation of wild turkeys will be short-lived! This means a lot to our committee members as we all put in a lot of hard work to make a successful first youth day. The NWTF helps give us the tools to create fun and successful youth days. The success will help us to grow this event.”

“We are proud to recognize these three exceptional events for creating new and inspiring NWTF events that provide people unique and hands-on opportunities to get involved with hunting and conservation,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “Events like these are crucial to keeping people engaged with the NWTF mission, and we are proud of these chapters taking the initiative to plant the seed for what I am sure will be successful annual events.”

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
  • Learn to Hunt