Let’s Talk about Conservation

Erin Miller, Reporter

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by Erin Miller

Way back in the woods sits a nature center called Myer Station in Crofton, where animals roam free and the National Wild Turkey Federation meets on Tuesday nights. When I mention the N.W.T.F, I’m often asked

what the National Wild Turkey Federation is, and this is my answer: The National Wild Turkey Federation is a place for people with alike views on the environment to meet. Eventually, these people become friends, and over the years I’ve come to think of these people as good family friends.

Over the years, the once prosperous Turkey Federation in Central Maryland is struggling to bring in new members. I sat down with three men who have been with the Turkey Federation since its conception in Maryland. Mr. Glen Horrell has been with the club since the Central Maryland Chapter started 25 years ago, and gave me some insight into what the N.W.T.F was like when he first joined. 

Erin Miller
Everyone participates in these outdoor activities

Mr. Horrell explained, “The biggest difference is there were almost no turkeys in the state, so hunters were anxious to get in and help, because they wanted to increase the population.” The Federation’s mission was and is to rebuild the turkey population, but over time it has changed from not just the wildlife itself, but its habitat as well.

 

Most older members would love to have more people join the chapter according to Mr. Dan Zinkand, a 24-year member of the N.W.T.F. Mr. Zinkand shared: “I’d love to see younger members. I would teach them everything I know.”  He pointed out that it would mean the chapter survives and the next generation of conservationists will be preserved. Having new members in the club is a huge deal for the club and would also help the N.W.T.F become more family oriented.

The third person I spoke was Mr. Gene Hyatt, a founding member of the Central Maryland Chapter and a large influence on the Federation. The biggest downfall the N.W.T.F has had is that the Federation is now run by businessmen instead of hunters, according to Mr. Hyatt. Another hit to the N.W.T.F is that it is completely a volunteer run organization, and finding people that want to volunteer is becoming increasingly more difficult. I asked Mr. Hyatt if he had any advice and his response was: “Come get involved, come down and see what we do. We can find something for you that you are interested and can learn about here with other.”

Concerning the N.W.T.F’s mission I asked a state board member, Mr. Russ Leith, who is in charge of the Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt program. Mr. Leith joined the Monocacy Chapter in 2012, and he knew that this was something he wanted to be heavily involved in because he had volunteered at the annual banquet. According to Mr. Leith “Save the Habitat, Save  Hunt” is a catch phrase summing up the conservation effort that the N.W.T.F has put into motion NATION wide. The biggest hurdle for people to get involved was places to go, and having someone to guide you when coming into the N.W.T.F.”

After speaking to Mr. Leith, I started to think about the different events I’ve been involved in since I was four years old. I decided that talking to some of the teenagers that remember very well the weekends we spent at Myer Station for Jake’s weekend in June. Jake’s Day is an event for children ranging from 4-17, teaching children fishing, archery, firearm safety: ie. how to handle a firearm, we have some sort of demonstration typically something related to outdoors for example this past year in 2018 we had D.N.R (department of natural resources) K-9 unit do a demonstration, crafts that children can enjoy outside, and to close off the day we normally have a hayride for the children and adults.

For this part of my article, I sat down with Gabriel Carter, who participated in the Jake’s program for eight years. Jake’s weekend was a 2 day event starting on Saturday with a “Welcome to Myer Station” and fishing and ending on Sunday. Kids from ages 4-17 come for a day of fun and camping. He recalled his time as a Jake’s member fondly, stating that the events were always a lot of fun. I asked him about his connection: What does Jake’s weekend mean to you? His response was “Jake’s weekend meant I got away from my parents for 48 hours. At first it was kinda crappy, but as I got older it was much more interesting, because you got to do more as you got older.”

Unfortunately due to a decrease in members the N.W.T.F downsized the event to Saturday only with a welcome, fishing, shooting & firearm safety, archery, BB firearms, Tomahawks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, crafts, and a hayride at the end of the day. Carter lamented the changes when he explained “it isn’t a weekend anymore”. Member participation is down, and no one was coming back on Sunday he added.

This girl can attest, it’s a great experience.  Parents get to get involved with their kids, it’s a bonding experience and having been involved in the events N.W.T.F has to offer, I can tell you it’s worth the Saturday to spend time with your family. 

Check out the Facebook page or www.centralmarylandchapternwtf.com.

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