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For more information, contact: Bob Kasun, Pa. Chapter of NWTF public relations, 814-942-3990.
PANWTF passes $5 million mark, continues proud tradition of wild turkey conservation
Don Heckman, a recognized state and national leader in wild turkey conservation, remembers the humble beginnings of the Pennsylvania National Wild Turkey Federation’s involvement in Hunting Heritage Super Fund banquets. “It’s hard to believe that back in 1984 up in Saint Mary’s when a group of Pennsylvania Chapter [of NWTF] first heard about Super Fund banquets. We all thought ‘how in the world are we going to get this going?’ ”
A group of 40 PANWTF directors and staff met at Trout Run Lodge in Elk County with a keynote message of commitment from state and local chapters to hold Super Fund Banquets to raise money to support the future of the wild turkey and turkey hunting in Pennsylvania. The first Super Fund banquet, now called the Hunting Heritage Super Fund banquet, was held in Southwest Pennsylvania in April 1984 by the Laurel Highlands Committee.
Twenty-six years later, a total of $5,012,307 of Pennsylvania Super Fund money has been raised and spent on habitat management, wild turkey management, turkey hunter safety education, land acquisition and NWTF outreach programs. “This monumental goal is a great accomplishment for all turkey hunters in Penns Woods and especially all past and present NWTF volunteers that made this goal achievable,” said Heckman, who is a PANWTF executive officer.
“I believe with the help of NWTF volunteer members, super fund banquets, and the money raised and spent on wild turkey resource and habitat management programs, turkey hunters have experienced the best decade in the past 110 years for wild turkey management and turkey hunting.”
The PANWTF is one of the national leaders in raising funds through the Hunting Heritage Super Fund banquets. Bob Eriksen, a NWTF regional biologist, confirmed that Pennsylvania is only the second state to pass the $5 million mark through the Hunting Heritage Super Fund. Texas has raised and spent $5.8 million followed by Iowa ($4.8 million) and Wisconsin ($4.2 million).
“Reaching the $5 million mark is a testimony to the dedication of hundreds of Pennsylvania Chapter volunteers who work hard to put fund-raising banquets together, seek donations and make the conservation work we do in the Commonwealth possible,” Eriksen said.
“PANWTF members are the cream of the crop when it comes to turkey hunters. They willingly give back to the resource by devoting their time and energy as volunteers so that our organization can put conservation on the ground by supporting habitat enhancement, wild turkey research, land acquisition and law enforcement efforts. In addition, their support of hunter safety and education and NWTF outreach programs is essential to maintaining our hunting heritage.”
The 86 local chapters and more than 12,500 PANWTF members statewide have seen the monies put to good use for wild turkey habitat improvements, land acquisition, research programs, hunting safety and education along with outreach programs like Women in the Outdoors, Wheelin’ Sportsmen and a variety of JAKES event. “Working together with our NWTF members and partnership agencies the Pennsylvania Chapter NWTF has reached this $5 million milestone that many of us never dreamed possible back in 1984. Over the years, NWTF has provided so many different outreach programs for state and local chapters to participate and make a positive difference. Wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage work hand-in-hand to achieve value and benefits for the wild turkey resource, wild turkey management and turkey hunting,” Heckman said.
The PANWTF, which was founded in 1975, has built an impeccable resume when it comes to following the National Wild Turkey Federation vision statement of being dedicated to conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of the hunting tradition. “After 25 years of continuous and successful fund raising banquets to generate money to be spent on wild turkey projects, the Pennsylvania Chapter and our local chapters throughout the Commonwealth have ‘answered the call.’ NWTF member volunteers have stayed the course and helped the Pennsylvania Game Commission succeed in wild turkey restoration,” Heckman said.
The PANWTF is celebrating its $5 million milestone with a “Grand Slam” membership drive, promoting “let’s invite others to share in our success.” When a PANWTF member recruits a new member to the NWTF family, they will be registered for a turkey hunts to Florida, Wyoming, Ohio and Kansas. See the Pennsylvania State Chapter of the NWTF’s Web site at http://www.panwtf.org,
click on $5 million membership drive information link for additional information and membership drive sign-up sheets.
“Our Grand Slam membership drive was created to serve a dual purpose,’’ said T. Scott Wojton, PANWTF board member. “First was to communicate and promote this achievement throughout the membership to build our pride and sense of accomplishment. Second, it provides an excellent reason for a new member to join us. People want to be a part of a winning team and know that their time, efforts, energy and money are making a tremendous difference. Along with increased membership comes more volunteers and increased resources which will enable us to do more and make an even greater contribution to the wild turkey resource, habitat enhancement projects and our outreach programs here in Pennsylvania.”
For more information about the Pennsylvania Chapter visit the web site at http://www.panwtf.org.