NASHVILLE, Tenn.—National Wild Turkey Federation volunteer Russ Leith received national recognition from the NWTF for being the recipient of the 2020 Mentor of the Year Award.
“I am truly humbled that both my peers and the NWTF feel that I am worthy of this award,” Leith said. “As an adult onset hunter myself, I decided years ago that I would do whatever I could to create the kind of opportunities that I was afforded for anyone that wanted to learn how to hunt. Perhaps the greatest thing that has come from my recruitment efforts is all the passionate volunteers and mentors that I have come to know that are so determined to make a difference and ensure that our hunting heritage survives for generations to come.”
Leith, of Hampstead, Maryland, accepted the Mentor of the Year Award during the 44th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show.
Leith earned the award for his desire to introduce hunting and shooting sports to new individuals. Leith has played an instrumental role in starting the First Shot mentored hunt program in Maryland, a partnership between the NWTF, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and, among other nonprofits, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program introduces hunting to individuals particularly from nonhunting backgrounds. Leith’s dedication has made NWTF’s R3 initiatives a large success in Maryland.
Outside of being an influential mentor, Leith is his local chapter’s president and was instrumental in the chapter’s annual net growth over the past few years.
“Russ has made mentoring new hunters a large part of his life,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “Through his dedication to recruit hunters of all walks of life, Russ is the embodiment of our saving our hunting heritage.”
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. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve 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.