NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For more than 20 years, Rocky Bunnell has hosted a JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) Day in his community, introducing thousands of youths to the outdoors. For these efforts, the National Wild Turkey Federation presented Bunnell with the JAKES Volunteer of the Year Award.
“The success is teamwork,” Bunnell said. “There’s a great group of people that work with me. Without them, this wouldn’t happen. It’s because of the kids. I’m glad people realize the importance of kids in the outdoors … The numbers of active people in the hunting world are going down. It’s good to know that the kids get to experience things that a lot of them wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to.”
Bunnell, of Monroe, New Hampshire, accepted the JAKES Volunteer of the Year Award during the 43rd annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show. Mossy Oak is the official convention sponsor.
The North County Longspurs NWTF JAKES Day is one of the country’s longest running outreach events thanks to the efforts of Bunnell. For starters, the event takes place on his family’s property — known as “Bunnell Camp” — as well as bordering properties where he has secured access.
In addition, Bunnell coordinates all aspects of the event, working with local businesses to help defray the cost of food and recruiting new volunteers to help keep programming new and exciting. Bunnell even works with state wildlife agencies to request help in obtaining fish to stock in a pond on the property so young anglers can take part in a fishing derby.
Bunnell’s impact on his community shows; many of those who previously attended the event as kids are now returning with their own children or to volunteer their time.
“Rocky puts his heart and soul into making the annual North County Long Spurs JAKES Day a success,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “We are thankful for volunteers like him, and are proud to honor him as our JAKES volunteer of the year.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org