While you don’t hear much about it, or maybe I just don’t pay attention, but anniversaries often have a gift theme associated with it. Such as the paper anniversary, or the wood anniversary. One of the more rare anniversaries is the 50th anniversary, the gold anniversary. However, this year has become the year of gold for the National Wild Turkey Federation.
In 1973, the NWTF was formed as turkey populations dwindled in the United States. Through fundraising and research, NWTF helped state agencies learn how to help the wild turkey recover. The trap-and-transfer method of relocating turkeys to areas of low or no population was found to be the best method to help form populations where they had been wiped out.
Raising turkeys and releasing them like they do with pheasants was tested but was found not to be viable as the turkeys did not learn to avoid predators like they do in the wild. In the first few decades of its existence, the NWTF helped repopulate or introduce wild turkeys into 49 of the 50 states. With their original goal met, the NWTF had to find a new goal.
In 2012, the Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt Initiative was launched with goals to conserve 4 million acres of habitat, recruit 1.5 million new or lapsed hunters, and to open access on 500,000 acres to hunting with a timeline of only 10 years. As the decade of the initiative came closer to the end, all three of the goals were met with plenty of time to spare. Now, the Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt Initiative has officially expired in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization before the next initiative is revealed. However, the organization isn’t taking it’s foot off the gas while it celebrates. There are six single-year goals that have been set to try to reach before the NWTF turns 51, they are:
1. Add 250,000 new adult members
2. Raise $500,000 for wild turkey research
3. Positively impact 1 million acres
4. Dedicate $1 million to Education and Outreach programs
5. Raise $5 million to modernize IT infrastructure
6. Raise $5 million to build a $50 million endowment
While some of these goals seem lofty, that is exactly what goals are meant to be. Something that you need to work hard for to fulfill. To help meet these goals, special fundraisers and other events are being planned for 2023 all over the county, including here in New York.
Some smaller goals that local chapters are being asked to attempt to beat include recruiting 50% more volunteers to help the chapter since many chapters have aging volunteers and increasing attendance at fundraising events by 50%.
It is crazy to think about what has happened in the past 50 years of the NWTF, yet I look forward to being a part of the next 50 years!