Outdoor Chenango: National Awards Winner
Published: February 21st, 2024
By: Eric Davis

Outdoor Chenango: National Awards Winner

Last Wednesday morning, I got on an airplane at the Binghamton Airport at 5:45, headed to Nashville with a layover in Detroit. My destination was the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, the home of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) National Convention and Sport Show. I got dropped off by a taxi just before noon Central time.

That night I went across the street to a restaurant with another volunteer from New York and some NWTF staff from the Northeast.

Thursday morning brought the Rendezvous where I walked the New York flag out as state chapter president, along with the presidents from all the other state chapters. We got updates from outgoing the national board president as well as the co-CEOs of the organization.

After that, I headed to one of the restaurants inside the resort for lunch with the PA chapter president and two NWTF staff members. In the afternoon, I attended some of the Outreach program seminar before heading to the state chapter president business meeting. In the business meeting, we were given more detail on things from the national board president, the co-CEOs, fundraising and conservation staff, as well as Dr. Mike Chamberlain, one of the top turkey researchers in the world. When the business meeting was over, I ran to my room to change before heading to the 80’s themed Welcome Party.

Friday morning, I attended the Outreach Awards Breakfast where volunteers and chapters were recognized for their hard work and dedication over the past year in the various outreach categories the NWTF has. Then I had nothing scheduled for the rest of the morning, so I headed down to the Sport Show to wander around a little bit and see a few vendors.

At lunchtime, I left the Sport Show and headed back to my room to relax for a little while. Then at 2:00 I attended the second day of Outreach Seminars. As everyone filtered in, I chatted with the gentleman sitting next to me in a US Forest Service uniform about growing up near the Finger Lakes National Forest and how my grandfather took me fishing there for stocked trout as a kid. Then about 30 minutes later, he got up to do a presentation on partnering with National Forests for outreach events and brought up that I had just told him how I fished at the Finger Lakes National Forest in NY with my grandfather.

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After the seminars were over, I headed to my room to get changed for the Awards Gala Dinner. I had been notified about a month ago that my local chapter, the Genegantslet Gobblers, were receiving an LA Dixon Award and that I could get two free tickets to the dinner to accept the award. The email did not say what award category or what place, so I was not sure what to expect. Once I got to my table, I grabbed a booklet on the table and looked at the awards listed. I found Genegantslet Gobblers listed as third place for net adult membership. This meant that our chapter had the third greatest number of memberships sold in 2023 in the entire country! After a few minutes, a staff member brought over an award in a box and handed it to the Regional Director for central NY to give to the chapter, which was the Genegantslet Gobblers. When he handed it to me, it had “Highest Cumulative Growth % Third Place” on the box. This had me perplexed so I double-checked the awards page and sure enough, Genegantslet Gobblers was listed as third place in that category as well as net membership!

Once the Awards Gala was finished, the back of the room was opened up for Rodeo and Raffles with a handful of raffles for firearms and other outdoor goods. One raffle was for Benelli’s new bolt action rifle the Lupo. If you bought a Tactacam cellular trail camera you got one ticket in the gun raffle. I bought two cameras, so I got two entries into the raffle. After they had sold out of chances for the different raffles, they started picking winners. The first winner picked was for the Benelli, and one of my tickets was the winner! So, it was the perfect way to cap off the night.