Children were treated to a day full of bounce houses, BB guns and animals galore at the Sixth Annual Jake’s Day event in East Bend on Oct. 13.
The event was hosted by the Yadkin County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and was held at the East Bend ball field and was free to everyone.
The Yadkin County chapter of the NWTF is referred to the as Red Clay Long Beards and has been formed for about 10 years. It currently has 115 members.
“The National Wild Turkey Federation is based out of Edgefield, S.C., and we’re a non-profit organization that promotes wild turkey habitat, youth conservation and hunting heritage,” said Scott Martin, district field supervisor. “We formed in 1973 and we have almost 2,000 chapters nationwide.”
Each year the NWTF teams up with the Yadkin County chapter to host this event to help get children outdoors and teach them safe practices in hunting.
“We want to get kids out here free of charge and provide them a meal and we provide instruction on how to shoot a BB gun or how to shoot archery safely,” Martin said. “There’s an array of things that they can come and do for fun or for education that helps them in the community and to help them be better people in the community.”
At this year’s event children had a large selection of activities. Several bounce houses and slides were on site, face paintings, balloon art, archery practice with Drop Tine Archery, supervised BB gun shooting in the Jake’s Take Aim shooting range, displays from the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, US Forestry Services, North Carolina Wildlife Commission, old fashioned hay rides on an antique tractor, horse-drawn wagon rides and a petting zoo.
Children and their families were allowed entry free of charge and were provided a free lunch of pizza and chicken wings from Papa John’s.
“We love to hunt and we love to see kids get outside and away from their computers,” said Gary Meyers, East Bend chapter president. “We spent $6,000 here today and 42 sponsors helped pay for it.’
Meyers said that this event is far from the only thing that the NWTF does for the community. Meyers said that through raffle ticket sales the local chapter is able to help local residents with medical bills, financial assistance and they also donate regularly to Mountain Valley Hospice.
“Every year we give away 62 guns,” Meyers said. ‘The NWTF purchases the guns and we sell the tickets. If we sell 100 tickets that produces $1,000. The NWTF gets $500 to help buy the guns and $500 stays in Yadkin County. We have already sold 400 tickets and if we sell another 100 tickets we will get $2500 cash for our time. That’s just one raffle. We give away a four wheeler trailer and we make $1,000 on that.”
Meyers said that the local chapter has also been able to donate money towards Christian Hurt’s surgery fund and was able to give $900 towards Dakota Davis’ heart transplant surgery costs.
The organization also cooperates in the NWTF program called Turkey Hunters Care, which provides Yadkin Christian Ministries with turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas.
“Nationwide we give out almost 15,000 turkeys a year through that program to help out needy people throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Martin said. “This chapter has been instrumental in that program.”
The NWTF also provides scholarships to high school seniors across the country.
“We give away an excess of 1,000 local scholarships,” Martin said. “Kids qualify for that in their senior year and they just have to contact a local chapter of the NWTF and fill out an application request. They will get $250, if they win the state level they will get $1,000 and if they win the national level they will get $10,000 so one kid could end up with $11,000 to $12,000 in scholarship money.”
Martin said that the organization is looking for candidates who can show how hunting has had a positive impact on their life. He said that while hunting is not a requirement of candidates it would be a benefit but the scholarship is for any seniors who are interested in studying habitat improvement, wildlife conservation, shooting sports or anything that coincides with the NWTF mission.
Martin said that it’s important to remember that the NWTF isn’t just about hunting. Many of the people who volunteer within their local chapters or participate in the programs may have never hunted before but just enjoy seeing wildlife in its natural habitat.
“A lot of our people enjoy hunting wild turkey but then a lot of them just enjoy being part of the program,” Martin said. “They enjoy seeing wildlife and just seeing kids smile when they get to shoot a target or when they have encouragement on how to do something the right way.”
Tammy Meyers, Gary’s wife and vice-president of the East Bend chapter, said that the organization represents the beauty of living in a rural setting to her.
“It’s not all about hunting. It’s not about shooting things,” Tammy said. “Sometimes I’m at work and my dad calls me and tells me that he has 14 turkeys in his backyard or he tells me that he has my granddaughter looking out the window and she’s yelling turkey at just 19 months old. That’s what it’s about. People don’t get to see this every day.”
The East Bend chapter’s next event will be their annual fundraising banquet. It takes place between late March and early April at Meyer’s Auction House in East Bend. People who wish to attend will be registered with the NWTF for the year and will be provided with a meal and can participate in silent and live auctions.
“The banquet is the national organization fundraiser,” Martin said. “We ask the chapters once a year to open their doors and recruit members and bring everybody that they can in to support us. East Bend has one of the top tier banquets in North Carolina without a doubt as far as their fundraising and the number of people they’re able to get involved. That’s what makes all of this available. It’s all a big circle of what they’re able to do.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.