Mississippi districts, NWTF help to educate the next generation

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Mississippi conservation districts are working with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) to educate youth and encourage conservation measures and interest in wildlife habitat management.

NWTF has helped conservation districts organize conservation and hunting field days geared toward youth in Stone, Jackson, George, Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River Counties.

“This gives us a good opportunity to work with youth, but it also helps develop relationships with conservation district board members so they know we’re here and what we do,” NWTF District Biologist-Mississippi Kacie Bauman said. “If they’re talking to someone who needs a habitat plan or technical assistance or a wide range of things dealing with conservation, they can reach out to us to provide help.

“For the youth, it is key to have that connection with conservation districts, because we don’t have the potential for that type of outreach,” she said.

Bauman also attends conservation district board meetings. She caters field days based on age groups and the needs of the individual district, focusing on the connection between hunting and the taxes that get re-invested into the soil and water conservation districts for management purposes on all levels.

“We talk about how conservation is funded through hunting and shooting sports, why turkeys need prescribed fire and active habitat management, and we get them excited about it,” Bauman said. “And what is good habitat for turkeys benefits other species of wildlife, so if you’re not in it for turkeys, know you’re still making a positive impact on other wildlife.”

NWTF participated in a speaker series event related to turkey habitat management for Hancock and Pearl River SWCDs geared toward adults to educate them on the management techniques they could implement and the cost-share opportunities available to them.

Without the SWCDs’ facilitation, NWTF would not be able to reach out to as many landowners and youth about how important turkey conservation and habitat management is, not just for turkeys, but because the benefits positively affect other wildlife fowl, animals and the health of the forest, she said.

“We have definitely gotten calls from people interested in learning more and wanting field visits and possibly giving a private presentation to a classroom or on other smaller scales,” Bauman said. “We get a lot of positive feedback by giving these talks and spending time with the SWCDs.

“The conservation districts are really important in building those landowner relationships, and we value the partnership,” she said.

For more stories like this, check out NACD’s Forestry Notes.

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