NWTF Partners with UGA for Endowed Wild Turkey Professorship

posted on June 5, 2024
NWTF And UGA Partnership Logos

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has recently established the first-ever National Wild Turkey Federation Distinguished Professor position with the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. A prominent professor and researcher will be appointed to the position later this year. That individual will be the recipient of the investment returns of a $500,000 endowment to facilitate wild turkey research, endorsed and supported by state wildlife agencies in the years ahead.

“While we will always continue to allocate funds to critical wild turkey research projects through our National Wild Turkey RFP program, we need to also channel the momentum we’ve built around research into something a step further,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “This new endowed professorship with UGA will ensure that wild turkey research is funded and remains an area of focus into perpetuity.”

Once endowments are established, they are self-sustaining and create a dedicated funding stream to support and expand research with existing faculty or directly fund research faculty positions. As the $500,000 endowment grows, so too will its annual return, increasing its impact on the wild turkey throughout time. The UGA endowment was financed by a $250,000 contribution from the NWTF and a $250,000 match grant from the UGA Foundation. NWTF’s staff leadership, the National Board of Directors and state chapter leaders endorsed this opportunity at the 48th annual Convention and Sport Show in Nashville in February.

The NWTF seeks to create similar positions at key universities across the country; this network of endowed professorships will promote future wild turkey researchers and ensure the study of the wild turkey remains an area of emphasis, during times of decline and during times of stability. Similar university positions exist for waterfowl, quail, ungulates (deer) and other species, but the NWTF Distinguished Professor is the first of its kind for the wild turkey.

“As the first endowment of its kind in the country, this collaboration exemplifies our commitment to conserving wild turkeys and hunting heritage for future generations,” said Bridget Harden, senior director of development at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “The addition of this new distinguished professorship allows the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources to elevate wild turkey research to a higher level of excellence, achieving results that enhance our understanding of wild turkey management and ecology while honoring the vision and mission of the NWTF.”

The NWTF is working with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to appoint an individual to the position in August.

“The creation of these endowed professors and programs was the natural progression to ensure wild turkeys remain a focus in the future,” said Mark Hatfield, NWTF national director of science and planning. “In addition to our support through the Request for Proposals [research investment] program, we felt it was important to also invest in programs and opportunities that will create the next generation of wild turkey biologists.”

Importantly, any NWTF endowed professorships or programs will not be guaranteed additional funding each year through the RFP program. Endowed professors will still have to apply for research funding through the NWTF’s competitive RFP process, which includes evaluation and scoring of projects by the NWTF Wild Turkey Technical Committee.

For more information on this and related conservation efforts, visit nwtf.org.


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