EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation’s recent Turkey Telethon broadcast on Facebook Live saw successes on numerous fronts thanks to the overwhelming support from the conservation and hunting communities.
Industry leaders — Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, MeatEater’s Steve Rinella, Mossy Oak’s Cuz Strickland, Bone Collector’s Michael Waddell, Avian-X and Zink Calls founder Fred Zink and Woodhaven Calls owner Mike Pentecost, among numerous others — appeared on the 12-hour Facebook Live event to discuss the importance of the NWTF, share their passion of turkey hunting and help the NWTF raise awareness and additional funds for its Call for All campaign, an initiative to raise $5 million by the end of August to help the organization reconcile from the impacts of COVID-19.
“Thanks to our volunteers, staff, members and supporters from across the conservation and hunting industries, our first-ever Turkey Telethon was a tremendous success,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “This event exemplified how dedicated our supporters are to the conservation of our country’s wildlife and wild places.”
The live stream garnered thousands of viewers from noon to midnight, as guests shared stories and talked turkey, helping raise more than $200,000 toward NWTF’s Call for All campaign.
“I owe a personal debt of gratitude [to the NWTF] … because I have found so much joy and satisfaction over the last 20-something years since I’ve started hunting turkeys that it would be criminal for me not to try to pay it back and give thanks where thanks is due,” MeatEater’s Rinella said. “The nuts and bolts of how we do it [conservation], why we do it [and] the expertise to do it has emanated from this organization. You can go research it all you want, and every road leads back to the NWTF … The ongoing presence of expertise, money, knowhow, volunteers — this is where it comes from, so if you like turkeys, step up.”
Industry figureheads like Rinella, leaders of state natural resource organizations, NWTF members and company representatives, alike, all chimed in on the live event to share the importance of supporting the NWTF during the difficult times spawned by COVID-19.
“You guys have the infrastructure across the country and have been doing great things for decades, and so we’ve been there to support and we’ll be there to continue the support,” said Jon Zinnel, Federal Ammunition’s conservation and youth shooting sports manager. “This Call for All campaign just made sense for us to step in and share a good word and try to promote the messaging and let everybody know that you guys are out there and what you’re doing … At Federal Ammunition, we are going to step up and donate $20,000 to the Call for All campaign … we want you guys and your membership to know we are here for you.”
NWTF’s Turkey Telethon is one of the numerable digital events the organization has implemented to offset substantial losses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the inaugural Turkey Telethon, the NWTF has introduced digital banquets and hosting online silent auctions and raffles, among various other digital initiatives.
“One thing the NWTF has demonstrated during these difficult times is a resilience and ability to confront any obstacle,” Humphries said. “With our incredible partners, volunteers and staff, we will get through this.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative – a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.