NWFT comes together to celebrate turkeys and turkey hunters

A few weeks ago, I attended the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWFT) annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the first consumer fair I had attended in a few years.

As soon as I walked through the doors, I was reminded how much I love sports shows. Rows and rows of stalls filled with like-minded sportsmen selling hunts and gear. I go through them all. Walking down the aisles chewing jerky and stuffing pamphlets into a bag like I did as a kid.

Turkey hunting has become one of my main passions. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that wild turkeys didn’t exist in northern Indiana when I was growing up. It is a species that I have been able to see returning to the landscape.

Now I have spent a few decades getting to know these birds intimately through countless hours of hunting and habitat work. Hearing the growl of the wild turkey fills me with hope, because it symbolizes our ability to right wrongs in this country.

There are many partners to thank for wild turkey restoration across much of North America. Dedicated state and federal agency employees have played a huge role, as have countless private landowners. But I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be here today without the bold work of the NWTF. At its peak, the organization grew to half a million members. Their dues and volunteer spirit brought the wild turkey back to the forests from which it had disappeared.

Some of these NWTF members served turkeys professionally. Some have even spent entire careers working on turkeys. But only a few have made their living serving turkeys and conservation. Where to work and play all in one.

The National Wild Turkey Federation recognized one such individual at their convention this year when it presented Sara Parker Pauley, director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, with the Lynn Boykin Hunting Heritage Award for her contributions to conservation. and the preservation of our hunting heritage.

“As someone who has spent my entire career championing the conservation mission, including as a former NWTF employee, it is truly an honor to be recognized for the Lynn Boykin Hunting Heritage Award,” said said Pauley, who was a regional NWTF Women in the Outdoors. coordinator from 1999 to 2000.

“She was a role model for women conservation leaders and her legacy of promoting hunting heritage in this country has had a lasting impact. It is humbling to be recognized by the NWTF – an organization close to my heart – and I will do my best to continue to shine a light on this important conservation work that we continue to work on together.

According to the NWTF, the namesake of the Lynn Boykin Hunting Heritage Award was a former president and chairman of the NWTF National Board of Directors. During her tenure, she highlighted the importance of hunting heritage and helped create a new outlook for the organization. Today, the NWTF’s mission to celebrate and preserve North America’s hunting heritage is among its most important works.

Pauley and Boykin are kindred spirits. Both have dedicated their lives to working for the advancement of our nation’s outdoor traditions. Pauley is the ninth director of the Missouri Department of Conservation since its inception in 1937 and the agency’s first female director. She is also a past president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

“We are especially grateful for Sara’s service to Missouri’s great conservation history and her leadership as director,” said NWTF CEO Becky Humphries. “His dedication to diversifying outdoor pursuits and ensuring that America’s conservation story includes people from all walks of life earned him the prestigious Lynn Boykin Award.”

Pauley is originally from Columbia and still lives in rural Boone County with her husband, Scott. Prior to becoming director of MDC, she served as director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources from 2011 to 2016, making her one of the nation’s most skilled natural resource professionals.

But ask her why she does her job and she’ll tell you the truth: she has a deep passion for the outdoors. As for her accomplishments as a turkey hunter, well, let’s just say she’s part of an elite class.

On a personal note, I am fortunate to know Pauley. She is a friend, a mentor, a leader I am proud to follow and the best example of a public servant you can find. Yet what matters most about Pauley to me is the example she sets for all young women. As the father of two teenage girls, I am grateful that there are women like her leading the way for women in the world of conservation and natural resources. She sets a shining example for my daughters and for all young women who aspire to be outdoors.

Congratulations, Sara, on a well-deserved award. Thank you for all you do for conservation.

See you on the trail.

For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or wherever podcasts play.

Sharon P. Juarez