The Covered Bridge Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation has blazed new paths for other chapters.
The local group is considered the mentor for NWTF chapters in other states. The Covered Bridge chapter was first to implement a program for women called Women in the Outdoors. Peg Royer was state coordinator when the program began nearly a decade ago.
Other programs the Covered Bridge chapter is responsible for starting includes Wheeling Sportsman, an opportunity for physically challenged individuals to go on a hunt; Wild Turkey Woodlands, which teaches landowners how to best manage their property; and was the first to receive Five Star program (the five stars are scholarships, hunter, heritage and women programs and 4-H shooting sports).
Three years ago, the chapter won a national award for Best Overall Programs in the nation.
In addition to the outstanding local programs, Covered Bridge chapter provides scholarships to students seeking a degrees in environmental fields.
It also presents a turkey to a family in need every Thanksgiving. The Turkey Hunter's Care Program not only gives a deserving family turkey for a Thanksgiving meal, but also supplies them with food for the entire winter season.
If the family has small children, Turkey Hunter's Care gives gift cards for Christmas presents, Royer added.
Royer and her husband Allen are the owners of 180 acres, where they operate Wagoner Tree Farm. The Royers were honored with being named National Landowner of the Year.
"We use our property for conservation and educational programs," which earned them the award, Royer said.
The chapter is hosting its 12th annual Covered Bridge Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation banquet March 14 at Dixie Chopper Business Center.
This banquet is the chapter's fundraiser to support the several national programs offered by NWTF.
"A percentage of the money comes back to the local chapter from the banquet," Royer said.
What money comes back goes towards planting trees for private landowners. During the last 11 years, more than 500,000 trees have been planted in Putnam County.
Money from planting much-needed trees helps a program called JAKES or Juniors Acquire Knowledge Ethics Sportsmanship. It is a three-day, two-night, hands-on training in firearm safety.
Royer took the program designed for a classroom and turned it into an outdoor adventure for 50 kids and their parents. Participants learn how to shoot handguns and shotguns and even learn archery.
She said it is an opportunity parents and children should take advantage of this year. It will be held the first weekend in June, but registration is required.
She noted parents are required to attend JAKES with their children. If anyone is interested, contact Peg at 765-739-6135 for registration information.
Anyone interested in attending the banquet can make reservations by contacting Royer at the above number. She encourages families to sign up.
There will be enough entertainment for the whole family, she said.