The NWTF Arkansas State Chapter and its local chapters have a rich history of fulfilling the NWTF’s mission in the Natural State, and Cleveland County JAKES Day 2023 was no exception.
With over 207 children and an action-packed day of hands-on learning, the NWTF Cutter and Stutters chapter considers the event one of the best it has had in the 23-year annual event.
NWTF JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) Days engage youth in outdoor activities and instill lifelong traditions. The Cleveland County JAKES Day event included numerous learning stations where children spoke with experts and got involved with activities at each station, including hunting and shooting safety, shotgun shooting, taxidermy, animal identification, traps , ATV education and more. NWTF volunteers are the driving force that brings together the different experts in the community to make these types of events a success.
“Our younger volunteers are bringing a much-needed new energy to our events that is contagious,” said Terry Thompson, former NWTF Arkansas state chapter president and NWTF volunteer of 37 years. “This JAKES Day not only excited the kids, but the entire community; That’s what it’s all about.”
Jimmy Edmond and John Varnell, NWTF Arkansas volunteers and Cleveland County JAKES Day coordinators, raised more than $5,000 in donations ahead of the event, allowing for free event meals and hosting a variety of giveaways for the kids, including 21 Firearms.
“When you get businesses like MFK Game Calls, Thermal Optics Plus, and general community members coming together and having the same passion, you can achieve anything you set your mind to,” Varnell said. “JAKES Day was created to make a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of our youth. Some adults at the event remember attending these events and still having those memories in their hearts that they are now making those memories with their children and passing on the knowledge of the outdoors. There is nothing better!
By including the children, their parents and volunteers, attendance surpassed 400 people, creating more energy for next year’s event, which may be held in a new location to accommodate the growing turnout.
Established in 1981, NWTF’s JAKES program is dedicated to informing, educating and engaging youth ages 17 and younger in wildlife conservation and the wise stewardship of our natural resources. JAKES events help pass on the traditions of responsible hunting, teach principles of habitat management, hunting ethics and safety.
For $10 a yearJAKES receive a one year subscription to JAKES Country magazine (four issues), a chance to win the hunt of a lifetime, and a membership card.
In addition to JAKES Day events, NWTF chapters across the country host various events that engage youth in the great outdoors, including guided hunts for a variety of game species.
“If one child remains steadfast in our mission, they will snowball and help bring about the next generation of stewards of America’s precious resources,” Varnell said. “Lace your boots, get involved and get the community excited because when you see children’s faces light up like smiling possums about winning disguised bibles, that’s confirmation of all the hard work, dedication and caring.”
Learn how you can get involved as a volunteer with the NWTFeither look for an upcoming JAKES event in your area.