Representatives from state wildlife agencies gathered with National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) staff and volunteers for a weekend of training and collaboration aimed at solving the biggest problem facing both conservation and hunting industries – lack of new hunter recruitment and retention.
The NWTF is the first non-governmental organization to unite state and federal wildlife agencies with a dynamic volunteer base and form a solid foundation to solve the challenges facing North America’s sportsmen.
Matt Dunfee, program manager for the Wildlife Management Institute, gave a presentation about Recruitment, Retention and Reengagement and the Hunter Adoption Model. During breakout sessions, event attendees evaluated their state’s programs to determine where they fell in the model and how effective the programs truly were at creating hunters.
“The information learned from this weekend is perhaps the most important step in continuing our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative,” said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. “The NWTF is committed to creating 1.5 million hunters, because our hunting heritage and the future of our wildlife depend on it.”
The innovative meeting was held in Augusta, Georgia, and at NWTF’s headquarters in Edgefield, S.C. Participants also toured the future site of the NWTF’s Palmetto Shooting Complex, the hub of its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative.
“For years, hunter recruitment has been focused only on youth but we are trying to change that,” said Jay Johnson, hunter recruitment and retention coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Along with several other states, we are piloting efforts targeting new-to-hunting adults. Such adults have the motivation, means, and decision-making ability to not only try, but continue hunting if properly introduced and supported.”
The meeting participants committed to communicate their findings back to their respective NWTF chapters and state and federal wildlife agency staff members to continue the analysis and improvement of existing outdoor education programs within each state.
“We were thrilled to be an integral part of such a cutting edge workshop,” said John Frampton, president and CEO of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. The NWTF is the leading non-governmental organization in recruitment, retention and reengagement and we’re pleased to partner with them to help ensure active participation in hunting and the shooting sports for future generations.”
The group’s next meeting will take place at the 2015 NWTF Convention and Sport Show at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.