NWTF, Mathew Inc. Donate $100,000 Each to the Archery in School Program

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Archery in the schools, a program started in Kentucky, will expand nationwide thanks to $200,000 in donations from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) headquartered in Edgefield, S.C., and Mathews Inc., an archery manufacturer in Sparta, Wisconsin.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, has been notified that it will be getting help to expand a Kentucky archery program across America.

More than 100,000 Kentucky boys and girls at 200 Kentucky schools have learned target archery since the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources started the program in 2002. The program has had cooperation from the Kentucky Department of Education. Several other states have started their own programs modeled after Kentucky’s archery program, resulting in the creation of the National Archery in the Schools Program.

Officials from Mathews and the National Wild Turkey Federation officials pledged $100,000 each to the National Archery in the Schools Program at the Archery Trade Association’s trade show held in Indianapolis, Ind. The donations will accelerate the expansion of school archery programs throughout the U.S.

“This is a chance to help launch a program that will introduce students to archery,” said National Wild Turkey Federation CEO Rob Keck. “The NWTF is pleased to put this money toward a growing program that will have a positive impact on students and teachers.”

Mathews Inc. has previously pledged or donated $500,000 to the program. The company, involved since the school archery program’s inception, has donated equipment to the schools, provided technical assistance and helped train teachers with two-time Olympic archery winner Rod White.

“What nobody anticipated is the profound effect that archery would have in transforming the lives of students who weren’t the fastest, the strongest or the most athletic,” said Matt McPherson, head of Mathews Inc.

While the turkey federation is making the national archery program a priority, the excitement of the pilot program in Kentucky is sweeping into education systems across the country.

"The archery industry, archery enthusiasts and educators around the country are very excited about this program," said Roy Grimes, coordinator of the National Archery in the Schools Program for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Our goal is to make this program a possibility for students in at least 30 states over the next five years."

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources surveyed 1,600 students during the state's pilot program and found that archery can open doors to a number of new possibilities. Sixty percent of students wanted to become target archers, 38 percent wanted to try bowhunting and 89 percent of the students enjoyed the archery instruction after participating in archery courses. Teachers participating in the program also report that the archery curriculum improves student's self esteem, behavior and attention span.

"The students absolutely love it," said Connie Shackleford, the Kentucky Department of Education’s P.E. Curriculum Consultant. "I've been involved in health and physical education for more than 27 years and I've never seen a program that has grown this quickly. Student's behavior has been affected in a positive way. The curriculum is both structured and fun."

The national archery program offers an Olympic-style target archery program to physical education students from 4th to 12th grades.

Before presenting the two-week archery course, educators undergo an 8 to 12-hour National Archery Association Level I archery-training program. The core curriculum covers archery history, safety, technique, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement. Kids shoot at bull’s-eye targets placed before an arrow resistant net in their gymnasium, and equipment used is state-of-the-art and designed to fit every student.

“This is a sport that students can take with them for the rest of their lives ” said Dick Rosenlieb, National Wild Turkey Federation vice president of sales and marketing. “Students have the opportunity to learn from top-rate instructors that will use archery as their tool.”

The federation’s JAKES, (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) outreach program for youths 17-years-old and younger is one more reason the group has committed to the archery in the schools program. In 2003 alone, more than 45,000 children across North America attended over 600 National Wild Turkey Federation field day events which included archery, shooting, camping and other outdoor activities.

“The NWTF’s support of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) is one more way that JAKES members or non-members can get involved in archery,” said Christine Rolka, JAKES program education supervisor. “Both JAKES and NASP offer children educational opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

For more information about the National Archery in the Schools Program, contact Roy Grimes, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at 1-800-858-1549.

For more information about the National Wild Turkey Federation, contact James Powell or Jonathan Harling at 1-800-THE-NWTF.

About the NWTF: In 1973 when the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded, there were an estimated 1.3 million wild turkeys and 1.5 million turkey hunters. Thanks to the work of wildlife agencies and the NWTF’s many volunteers and partners, today there are more than 6 million wild turkeys and approximately 2.6 million turkey hunters. Since 1985, more than $175 million NWTF and cooperator dollars have been spent on over 24,000 projects benefiting wild turkeys throughout North America.

The NWTF is a half million-member grassroots, nonprofit organization with members in 50 states and 12 foreign countries. It supports scientific wildlife management on public, private and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional North American sport.