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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Over the last 36 years, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has helped conserve nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat and preserve the hunting tradition, and this year during the NWTF’s 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show, the Federation will highlight the people who have made it all possible: its volunteers.

The convention, themed “The Year of the Volunteer,” will take place Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, 2009, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. During the convention, the NWTF will present awards to its top volunteers and chapters to recognize their great accomplishments.

“The NWTF has the world’s best volunteers without a doubt,” said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. “Without their hard work and dedication, the NWTF and its partners couldn’t have invested more than $279 million to enhance habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife, improved opportunities and access to hunting land or introduced youth, women and people with disabilities to the outdoors. This year’s convention is all about our volunteers and giving credit where credit is due.”

Each year, the NWTF gives awards for great achievements in wildlife conservation and fundraising, and recognizes its top NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen, Women in the Outdoors and JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) outreach program volunteers while offering top-notch entertainment and more.

NWTF volunteers organize Wheelin’ Sportsmen NWTF events in the U.S. and Canada to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to try hunting, fishing and shooting under expert instruction; Women in the Outdoors events for women of all skill levels who want to enjoy the outdoors; and JAKES/Xtreme JAKES events for youth to learn the importance of wildlife management and helping uphold the hunting tradition.

During the 2009 convention, in addition to streamlined shows that highlight the NWTF’s top volunteers, convention-goers can enjoy performances by country music entertainers Blake Shelton, Rhett Akins, Daryle Singletary, Andy Griggs and singer and comedian Paul Harris, plus 10 calling contests, live and silent auctions offering everything from art prints to fine furs to once-in-a-lifetime hunting trips, a four-acre exhibit hall with more than 545 exhibitor booths and even a few surprises.

“The NWTF has come a long way since it first got started, and it’s all due to our volunteers’ tireless hard work,” Thornton said. “The upcoming convention is our chance to give our volunteers a weekend of fun to remember as a “thank you” for their tremendous dedication.”

For more information about the NWTF’s 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show or to learn how to start an NWTF chapter or fundraising banquet in your area, visit www.nwtf.org <http://www.nwtf.org>  or call (800) THE-NWTF.

2009 NWTF Convention Sponsors:

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
ATK/Federal Premium Ammunition
Bank of America
BASF
Bass Pro Shops
Browning
Call Makers and Collectors Association of America
Chevrolet
Crescent Cardboard Co., LLC
Foxy Huntress
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Harrington & Richardson Company
Knight Rifles
Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
Longleaf Camo
Marlin Firearms Company
Mathews Archery
Motorola
Nashville Convention and Visitors  Bureau
National Band and Tag
O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
Outdoor Channel
The Outdoor Connection
Realtree Outdoor Products, Inc.
Remington Arms Company, Inc.
South Carolina State Chapter
Tennessee State Chapter
USDA Forest Service
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Weatherby, Inc.
Wild Turkey Bourbon
Winchester Division/Olin Corp.

About the NWTF:  In 1973, Tom Rodgers founded the National Wild Turkey Federation in Fredericksburg, Va., as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization with a mission dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting traditions. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers relocated the NWTF to Edgefield, S.C., where it’s still headquartered today.

At the time NWTF was established, there were only 1.3 million wild turkeys. Today that number stands at more than seven million birds throughout North America, thanks to the efforts of state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members and partners.

Growth and progress define the NWTF as it has expanded from 1,300 members in 1973 to nearly a half million today. With that growth has come impressive strides in wildlife management as the NWTF has forged dynamic partnerships across the country to further its conservation mission. Together, the NWTF’s partners, sponsors and grassroots members have raised and spent more than $279 million upholding hunting traditions and conserving nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat.

While wild turkey restoration is nearing completion, the NWTF still has much work to do. Across North America, supporters are working to enhance habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife while providing hunters with more opportunities and access to public and private land. In addition, NWTF volunteers and partners are introducing youth, women and people with disabilities to the outdoors through special educational events.

If you would like to become a member of Team NWTF, join a committee or start a chapter, please visit our Web site at www.nwtf.org or call us at 800-THE-NWTF.