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Turkey Federation hosts annual banquet

The National Wild Turkey Federation is about more than just turkeys.

In addition to valuable conservation work and promotion of turkey hunting, the organization also sponsors activities for youth, women and the physically disabled to get them more involved in the outdoors, as well as supporting community outreach programs such as Share the Harvest, donating turkeys to SERVE, Inc. at Thanksgiving and providing scholarships to local students.

Leaders of the Kingdom of Callaway Limbhangers are hoping to draw more members — and more interest — in some of those efforts at the 18th Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet on Feb. 25, its main fundraiser for the year.

“It’s not all about the turkey hunting,” said Limbhangers president Pete Ripley. “We hope to be able to have a good crowd because it helps support events we do for kids and events we do for women, for people in wheel chairs.

“The National Wild Turkey Federation ... has raised more than $331 million (since it was founded in 1973) and has funded almost 3,000 different projects in the last year.”

John Burk, regional biologist for Missouri for the National Wild Turkey Federation, said one of the main uses locally for that money this year is to continue efforts to promote the sport of archery among the youth of Callaway County — a project started last year with a contribution to expand the 4-H shooting program in Callaway County.

“Fulton is the only school in Callaway County that doesn’t have a National Archery in Schools program,” Burk said.

In addition to promoting outdoor sports among youth, Ripley said he personally has a goal to get women in Callaway County more involved in his favorite pastimes as well.

“I feel women have been left out of shooting sports,” he said. “I want in the next year to have at least one opportunity for women in the outdoors, with it’s a seminar, or identifying animals or horticulture — it doesn’t have to be hunting.”

Burk said much of the funding for those programs will come from the banquet on Feb. 25 — doors open at St. Peters Catholic Church at 6 p.m., with dinner starting at 7:30 — which includes silent and live auctions as well as games.

“We have a wide variety of items (up for auction),” he said. “At least two will be on display in The Callaway Bank window on Court Street — one is a rustic wooden table and chairs with a middle panel that folds out for a game board, and a porch swing.”

He said another advantage of attending — the tickets, which are $45 per person or $65 per couple include annual membership — is that NWTF members can purchase Roundup Ready corn, soy bean and milo seed at significant savings.

“If they plant food plots for wildlife, they can more than recoup the cost of membership on savings on seed,” Burk said.

He invited Callaway residents come out to support what he said is a very worthy cause.

“Everybody that comes says they have a great time,” Burk said. “It’s a fun time, it’s a social event and the money raised, I feel, goes to a cause that’s very worthy.”

Ripley said he also would encourage all area residents who think they may be interested in learning more about the outdoors — or are just looking for a good time — to attend the banquet.

“Obviously it’s for membership, but we’ve got a lot of people that like to come for the camaraderie — we have a lot of people that come from out of town and go from banquet to banquet,” Ripley said. “On the 25th of February, what else is there to do on a Friday night in February.

“It’s a lot of fun, we’ll have good food, we’ll have auctions and raffles and all of that ends up as part of the $331 million.”

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