This 2012 Roger Latham Award winner and North Carolina State Chapter president believes hunters are the best stewards of conservation
Turkey Country: How long have you been an NWTF member and how do you serve the organization?
Bryan Perry: I'm not exactly sure when I joined, but I became actively involved somewhere around the early to mid-'90s. I have been fortunate enough to serve my local chapter as vice president for two years and six years as chapter president. I continue to serve as our chapter's JAKES and banquet chairman.
On a state level, I have been on the North Carolina board for six years — North Carolina vice president for one year and state chapter president for three years.
TC: Why did you join the NWTF?
BP: There were no turkeys where I live in Franklin County, and though it's not as noble a reason as I would like to tell everyone, like many I wanted to see turkeys where I lived. I developed such a passion for turkey hunting that I started looking for ways to become more involved. I attended a banquet in Kinston, N.C., enjoyed myself and began talking with some friends about starting a chapter. We chartered the Franklin County Longbeards Chapter and I have been involved ever since.
I'm a firm believer if you enjoy a resource, no matter what it may be, it's your responsibility to help make sure others have the opportunity to enjoy it as well.
TC: Why is it important for folks to belong to the NWTF?
BP: The NWTF's impact goes well beyond turkeys and turkey hunters. Our outreach programs and habitat management efforts benefit sportsmen and non-sportsmen. The unique structure of our organization's Hunting Heritage Super Fund and local chapter system allows our members to impact conservation and outreach on a local and national level.
TC: Tell us about the Dixie Deer Classic and how the state chapter got involved.
BP: In 2010, our state chapter was invited to partner with the Wake County Wildlife Club's Dixie Deer Classic sports show. This event is held on the North Carolina fairgrounds and has an annual attendance of around 25,000. Participation in the show allowed us to offer youth education opportunities as well as showcase the NWTF and its programs.
Throughout the weekend, we held youth turkey call building sessions, which consists of putting the paddle on a box call. Those sessions allow us to spend time with the children and their families. Last year, we put together and distributed 1,100 box calls as we shared the NWTF's mission. Over the past three years, the North Carolina Chapter has built and distributed more than 2,100 calls.
TC: How can expos like the Dixie Deer Classic increase NWTF memberships?
BP: Participating in large expos provides an opportunity to introduce great numbers of people to the NWTF. It also provides a chance to interact with individuals of similar interests — potential members and supporters.
The success of the call building activity has allowed us to secure $5,000 in underwriting each year.
Our efforts at the classic have created sponsors who support NWTF activities beyond the show. The call building has become so popular, the number of children and their families we interact with each year continue to increase. We have more and more children and parents come back each year telling us how much they enjoy the JAKES program, especially the magazine.
There is really no secret to increasing your JAKES or adult memberships. Just start having this type of activity at a large show.
Because of its involvement with NWTF youth programs, the North Carolina State Chapter was recently awarded the 2012 Governors Achievement Award and the 2012 North Carolina Wildlife Conservation Organization of the Year. — Gregg Powers
In the past three years, the North Carolina State Chapter has taught Let's Talk Turkey classes to more than 2,200 school children.