EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation thanks its former Director of Government Affairs Joel Pedersen for his 22 years of service to the organization and congratulates him as he assumes the role as president and chief executive officer of the Mule Deer Foundation.
“I am excited for Joel’s new opportunity,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “He has shared his tremendous professionalism and leadership skills with NWTF for 22 years, and he will be missed. We wish him the very best, and I look forward to working with Joel in his new role as president and CEO for the Mule Deer Foundation.”
Growing up in Nebraska, often hunting and fishing with his father and grandfathers, fueled Pedersen’s appreciation for nature and wildlife conservation. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in comprehensive biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a master’s in wildlife and fisheries science from the University of Tennessee.
Pedersen began his career in conservation as a biological scientist and administrator for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission in 1995, where he oversaw staff and all activities on three wildlife management areas in central Florida.
In 1999, Pedersen began his career at the NWTF, joining the family flock as a senior wildlife biologist. Pedersen led many foundational habitat enhancement and land access campaigns in this role, including developing the NWTF Lands Program, creating the More Places to Hunt Program and directing the Great Plains Riparian Initiative. Pedersen also coordinated and was the liaison for interstate and international wild turkey restoration efforts.
Over the next 18 years, Pedersen would hold various leadership roles within the NWTF to accommodate for the organization’s specific needs throughout the country, including the director of Land Access Programs, director of Western Conservation Planning and director of Lands and Policy.
In 2017, the NWTF named Pedersen as director of Government Affairs. In that role, Pedersen directed the NWTF’s federal and state legislative strategies, priorities and activities; supervised D.C.-based consultants; developed and maintained relationships with senior administration officials and members of Congress; initiated new strategies to engage volunteers in public policy; developed and managed the department’s budget; and was an essential member on the NWTF executive staff.
Pedersen’s background in wildlife biology, coupled with his ability to network with lawmakers, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, ensured the NWTF’s voice was well represented at the U.S. Capitol.
“Being a part of the NWTF team has been an incredible experience,” Pedersen said. “Being named president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation is a direct result of the trust and opportunities that have been extended to me by the NWTF board of directors, staff and volunteers. I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally, and I look forward to applying my experiences at the NWTF to lead the Mule Deer Foundation into the future. I believe the best is yet to come for both organizations.”
Pedersen’s professional affiliations include, but are not limited to, Boone and Crockett Club, Conservation Policy Subcommittee; Tread Lightly!, National Board of Directors; American Wildlife Conservation Partners, steering committee, chair and editor (Wildlife in the 21st Century: Volume V, 2015); Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partners Policy Council, steering committee; Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council, Wildlife Conservation Committee; and AWCP/Federal Agency Hunting and Shooting Sports Roundtable.
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. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative – a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or 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.