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The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Dr. James Earl Kennamer was recently selected as a Mississippi State University 2008 Alumni Fellow.
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EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Dr. James Earl Kennamer was recently selected as the recipient of the 2008 Alumni Fellow for the College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University.

The Alumni Fellow program recognizes and honors alumni who have achieved the highest levels of success in their profession. Kennamer, the NWTF’s senior vice president of conservation programs, earned a doctorate in philosophy and a Master of Science from the university.

“Many years ago, the NWTF gave me the opportunity to work on behalf of wildlife, particularly the wild turkey, and I am truly grateful for that chance,” Kennamer said. “I have many fond memories of the years I spent at Mississippi State University, and a great amount of respect for the school. Being recognized by my alma mater for my conservation efforts is such an honor.”

For more than 28 years, Kennamer has played a key role in forging the partnerships between hunters and wildlife agencies, corporations and conservation groups, which have helped restore turkey populations across North America. His dedicated work with wildlife agencies has made a difference, moving turkey populations from 1.3 million in 1973 to more than 7 million today.

One of Kennamer’s early successes was working with the NWTF Technical Committee, bringing together state, federal and provincial agency biologists to coordinate habitat work, wild turkey restoration programs and funding through NWTF’s Making Tracks program. Through this program, the NWTF works with wildlife agencies to coordinate the trap and transfer of wild turkeys. In areas where they are abundant, wild turkeys are usually trapped via nets propelled or dropped over a feeding flock. Trapped birds are individually placed in specialized transport boxes, and then released in areas of suitable habitat with few or no wild turkeys.

Since the 1950s, state and provincial wildlife agencies have moved more than 195,000 wild turkeys into suitable habitat across North America. The NWTF has accelerated those efforts through the purchase of trapping equipment, transfer boxes, funding and the help of its volunteers and partners.

Dr. Kennamer came to the NWTF from a tenured professorship at Auburn University in 1980. His leadership in wild turkey research and management has garnered respect throughout the conservation community, and helped the NWTF become the driving force in conservation it is today.

“James Earl joined the NWTF when the organization was still defining itself,” said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. “He has spent the past two decades helping the NWTF become the standard in the conservation community because he believes so strongly in conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage.”

Kennamer is no stranger to receiving recognition for his conservation work. Earlier this year, he was honored in Outdoor Life magazine’s first annual top 25 list of people who have positively affected our hunting and fishing traditions.

In 2006, Kennamer was awarded the highly coveted Henry S. Mosby award at the ninth National Wild Turkey Symposium; in 2005, he was honored with the Wildlife Management Institute’s Distinguished Service Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Carolina Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and in 2004, he received special recognition from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Mississippi State Alumni Association will be spotlighting its honorees later this year during a football game at the university.