The Middle Island Longbeards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation held their annual Hunting Heritage/Superfund banquet in Paden City last week and Chapter President Bob Leasure said he could not be happier with this year's turn-out.
"All numbers were up from last year, the food was great and everyone really had a great time raising funds for wild turkey conservation," he said.
As he recounted all of the chapter's successes through their 16 years Leasure said he was most proud of how the chapter thrives because of the J.A.K.E.S. program. "Last year, there were three times as many J.A.K.E.S. on the banquet committee as adults. Now that's America's youth working for the wild turkey," he said.
Skyler Leasure was the 2014 recipient of the NWTF Conservation Scholarship, presented by NWTF?president and grandfather Bob Leasure.
The Middle Island Longbeards chapter has been recognized by the National Wild Turkey Federation for their outstanding J.A.K.E.S. events with six national awards, one in each category, and has earned a "Best of the Best" award, and inducted into the NWTF's "Outreach Hall of Fame."
The banquet was held at the Matthew Barker Memorial Complex in Paden City on March 8 with a large crowd in attendance. Every thing from a social hour to a silent auction; a live auction, raffles, gun drawings and an excellent dinner catered by The Fort in Sistersville was available to banquet goers.
During the banquet, Leasure presented the NWTF Conservation Scholarship to Tyler Consolidated senior Skyler Leasure.
The Middle Island Longbeards extend their appreciation to all of those individuals, businesses, and organization supporting their cause, including:
The Paden City Wildcat Boosters for the use of their facility to host the Hunting Heritage banquet.
NWTF sponsor members: Bob Leasure, Jim Barnard, Myers Funeral Home, Jerry Williams, Antero Resources, Steve Estep, The Fort Pizza and Restaurant, Walton Electric - Rick Walton owner; WesBanco, Wetzel and Tyler counties; and Matt Ferrebee, Precision Contracting.
Those purchasing Corporate tables: Bob Leasure, Hillbilly Grill; The Fort Pizza and Catering; and Jim Barnard.
Those securing reserved group tables: Alta's Bait and Outdoors Shop; Witschey's Market Inc.; Dave Gallo; Union Bank; and the Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter.
Special thanks was also extended to members from other local chapters of the NWTF. "There are no barriers between members or chapters who work as a team to accomplish the conservation mission," Leasure said. "The Middle Island Longbeards would like to express appreciation to other chapters represented here tonight and thank them for their spirit of unity and support."
The Middle Island Longbeards chapter would like to thank all underwriters of the live auction package available at the banquet. Print sponsors include: Wable Ford; Bob Leasure, in memory of "Robcat"; Rt. 180 taxidermy; DAC Energy, LLC; Ace Home Center, New Martinsville; Bell Chevy; Antero Resources; McDonald's Restaurant; and S & S Diamonds and Fine Jewelry.
Appreciation is also extended to those who donated items or inkind contributions: Tyler Star News, Farmer's Exchange, Cabela's, Power Country Radio, Moundsville Pepsi, NTB, National Tire and Battery, Did's Designs and the Tyler Outdoor Store.
Thank you goes to Jim Barnard for underwriting the Women in the Outdoors firearm.
The following individuals and businesses sponsored children in the local area for a one year J.A.K.E.S. membership: Jim Barnard, Phillips Pharmacy, Jack Hayes - Tyler County Assessor, The Fort Pizza, State Farm Insurance - Linda Leasure, Walton Electric, King's Corner, Farmers Exchange, Alta's Bait and Outdoors - Alta Koerber owner, Blake's Auto Glass, Fast Eddy's Auto Body and Tires, Peoples Bank National Association Sistersville, Long Reach Employees Federal Credit Union, and Steve Estep.
Special drawings were held for an NWTF J.A.K.E.S. firearm. J.A.K.E.S. prizes were donated by Jim Barnard and the gun was underwritten by Steve Estep.
"As we reflect back on 16 years of the chapter's conservation efforts and enter another year of working for the wild turkey, I want to thank all of the committee members who gave of their time and resources," Leasure said. "Sacrificing time spent with family, giving up days of working around the house or even days hunting to accomplish goals of our conservation mission."
"I want to thank all of our sponsors and donors who gave monetary support of these worthwhile programs. I want to thank all other organizations that have worked closely with us to accomplish community projects. We have many new friends and even spent time hunting together."
"May we continue on so we can always hear the resonating gobble of the wild turkey in our woods."
Serving on the banquet committee this year were: Banquet chairman, ticket chairman - President Bob Leasure; Banquet Co-chairman - Vice President, Jim Barnard; Underwriting chairman, merchandise and firearms dealer - Alta and Jerry Koerber; Banquet cashier clerks - Steve Estep and Kim Estep; Women in the Outdoors committee - Debbie Leasure, Gracie and Caitie Lowers; J.A.K.E.S. table committee - Zac Leasure, Skyler, Riley, Parker and Benjamin Leasure; Auction committee - auctioneer, Tish and Russ Clem; Raffle Sales and auction support - Troy Collins and Justin Williams; Games - Jerry Williams and Frank Leek.
Longbeards chapter president, Bob Leasure, said he was very proud to have all seven of his grandchildren in attendance at the banquet and working on the committees.
"Most people don't realize how many hours of a volunteer's commitment goes into having a successful event," he said.
Anyone who is a turkey hunter and has not worked on one of these committees and would like to show how you support the sport is encouraged to call the chapter president at 304-748-4374.
"The rewards can't be measured," he said. "If you consider yourself to be a turkey hunter, you really should be a member of your local chapter of the NWTF."
"Membership is just $35 a year, and you'll be a part of the greatest conservation story ever told."