The National Wild Turkey Federation has connected youth with nature through its JAKES program since 1981, and will continue introducing youth to outdoor opportunities through 16 events in April as part of the Children & Nature Network’s “Children & Nature Awareness Month.”

Dedicated to informing, educating and involving youth in outdoor activities, wildlife conservation and wise stewardship of natural resources, JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) is designed for youth ages 12 and younger. The NWTF’s newest outreach program, Xtreme JAKES, was developed in 2002 for teens ages 13 to 17.

“The NWTF’s JAKES/Xtreme JAKES outreach programs offer ample opportunities for youth to learn about conservation and reconnect with the outdoors,” said NWTF Education Director Christine Rolka. “The NWTF is working to increase youth participation in outdoor pursuits – especially hunting and fishing – that will educate and entertain a new generation of conservation-minded citizens.”

In 2007, NWTF chapters in the United States and Canada held more than 1,000 JAKES events throughout the year that introduced youth to outdoor opportunities through hands-on activities such as archery, fishing, target shooting and more.

During Children & Nature Awareness Month, the NWTF will join a growing network of individuals, organizations and agencies to help spread the word about the importance of providing opportunities for all children to experience frequent, regular play and exploration in natural outdoor settings.

Today’s youth are far less likely than past generations to spend time playing outside, and a growing body of research says youth are paying a high price for that lack. Childhood obesity, inattentiveness, diminished creativity and depression are just a few of the problems linked to what author Richard Louv has dubbed “nature deficit disorder” in his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods.

“Getting kids outdoors more, riding bikes, running, swimming–and, especially, experiencing nature directly–could serve as an antidote to much of what ails the young,” said Louv, chairman and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network (C&NN).

According to Rolka, “Reconnecting youth with nature is vital not only to their future health, but also to the future of wildlife conservation and hunting heritage. It’s important to encourage the next generation’s interest in the outdoors because today’s youth are tomorrow’s conservationists, and the future of hunting hinges upon them.”

Outdoor Fun Fights Childhood Obesity
An estimated 16 percent of Americans ages six to 19 are overweight according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1999 to 2002. Parents and kids can take control of this epidemic by taking part in the outdoors. Check out calories burned for each outdoor activity, many featured at nearly 1,000 JAKES and Xtreme JAKES events held throughout North America. To find an event near you, visit: www.nwtf.org/jakes
Outdoor Activities/1 Hour of Participation Calories Burned
Canoeing (2 mph)255
Hunting285
Kayaking285
Hiking338
Backpacking398
Rock Climbing622
Archery195
Bicycling – Mountain480
Chores Calories Burned
Ironing128
Raking lawn225
Mowing – push248
Mopping255
Garden308

This is an estimate of the calories a person weighing 125 pounds will burn. Generally, to maintain your weight, the amount of calories you take in should equal the amount you burn. To lose one U.S. pound, you must burn 3,500 more calories than you take in as food. www.healthstatus.com.

NWTF JAKES activities and events taking place in April include:

Florida
Flagler County Chapter
Event Date: April 25, 2008
Location: Princess Place Preserve, Bunnell, Fla.
Contact: Sarah Paytas
Phone: (386) 586-6608
Email: paytass@flaglerschools.com

Florida
Fisheating Creek Osceola’s, Gulfcoast Gobblers/Okeechobee and Lakeport Chapters
Event Date: April 26, 2008
Location: Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s facility, Lakeport, Fla.
Contact: Grant Steelman
Phone: (863) 946-1194

Georgia
Rum Creek and Peach State Strutters Chapters
Event Date: April 26, 2008
Location: Shrine Park, Mecca Drive, Macon, Ga.
Contact: Ken Whitley
Phone: (478) 747-8334

Illinois
Mercer County Longbeards Chapter
Events date: April 12, 2008
Location: Joy Wildlife Farm, Joy, Ill.
Contact: Norman Gagliardo
Phone: (309) 534-8147

Indiana
Delaney Creek Longbeards Chapter
Event Date: April 5, 2008
Location: Sara and David Day’s Home, Salem, In.
Contact: Sara Day
Phone: (812) 620-0922

Kansas
Munker’s Creek Limbhangers Chapter
Events date: April 5, 2008
Location: Council Grove, Kan.
Contact: Brent Konen
Phone: (620) 767-5900

Kentucky
Twin Lakes Chapter
Event Date: April 5 & 6, 2008
Location: Camp Loucon, Leitchfield, Ky.
Contact: Mary Free
Phone: (812) 981-4517 or (270) 242-0951

Kentucky
Kincaid Longspurs Chapter
Event Date: April 4, 2008
Location: Foster, Ky.
Contact: James Beckett
Phone: (606) 782-3162

Maryland
Monocacy Valley Chapter
Event Date: April 5, 2008
Location: Woodmont Lodge, Ft. Frederick State Park, Big Pool, Md.
Contact: Gale Taylor
Phone: (410) 756-6738

Missouri
Truman Lake Chapter
Event Date: April 5, 2008
Location: Everhart’s Wilderness Lodge, near Clinton, Mo.
Contact: Brent Billings
Phone: (660) 885-5620

New York
Springville Strutters Chapter
Events date: April 12, 2008
Location: Springville Field & Stream, Springville, N.Y.
Contact: Jim Gamel
Phone: (716) 592-2388

New York
Tri County Chapter
Events Date: April 19, 2008
Location: Groton Rod & Gun Club, Groton, N.Y.
Contact: Ed Vance
Phone: (607) 898-5508

Pennsylvania
Shippensburg Strutters and Michaux-Yellow Breeches Chapters
Events date: April 5, 2008
Location: Newville, Penn.
Contact: Spencer Miller
Phone: (717) 776-7288

Virginia
Little Switzerland Strutters Chapter
Event Date: April 20, 2008
Location: McDowell, Va.
Contact: Robert Bralston Jr.
Phone: (540) 468-2450

West Virginia
Mid Ohio Valley Chapter
Event Date: April 12, 2008
Location: Wood County 4-H Facility, Mineral Wells, W.Va
Contact: Otis Townsend
Phone: (304) 428-4525
Email: otown@casinternet.net

West Virginia
Pocahontas Strutters Chapter
Event Date: April 19, 2008
Location: Handley WMA, Woodrow, W.Va.
Contact: Shawn Gilmore
Phone: (304) 799-6408
Email: wvgilmore@usa.com