by Karen Mehall Phillips - Tuesday, June 19, 2018
As founding editor of the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) website, NRAHLF.org, it was rewarding to watch it sweep the Conservation award category at the 2018 Professional Outdoor Media Association’s (POMA) national Pinnacle Awards ceremony on June 13. POMA Pinnacle Awards honor journalists for remarkable achievement in traditional outdoor sports-focused communications including: writing, art/photography and broadcasting as well as content specifically focused on wildlife conservation.
First up in the Conservation category was NRAHLF.org contributor Keith Crowley, of Hudson, Wisc., who won for his article “Hunters Aid Wisconsin's Bobcat Numbers.” Crowley highlights the bobcat’s remarkable recovery in Wisconsin, all thanks to the efforts of hunters, trappers and wildlife managers. As is the case with countless wildlife success stories, Crowley emphasizes how the relationship between hunters and professional wildlife managers is critical to the continued success and future of hunting and wildlife conservation. Crowley’s articles regularly tell the hunter’s story and touch on how hunters’ dollars make all the difference in maintaining wildlife species and their habitats for future generations.
NRAHLF.org also won the Conservation category’s Outstanding Achievement Award for my article “Lying about Lions: Fake News Exposed as Hunters Fight Fiction with Facts.” As we know, few hunting topics are as emotionally charged as the African lion issue. Consequently, Africa’s science-based lion-conservation programs and the livelihoods of the indigenous communities that depend on hunters’ dollars are paying the price as hunters’ social media beating continues. Add movies such as Walt Disney’s “Bambi” to the mix and there you have it: the danger of storybook fantasies where make-believe animals sport human emotions. The article covers how hunters’ big wake-up call came in 2015 over a lion hunt in Zimbabwe that made international news. As anti-hunting extremists hijacked the concept of “animal welfare” to convince the public it was part of their animal rights platform, they had no one to refute them. Changing hunters’ preparedness level in fighting extremist groups is precisely why the NRA HLF and NRAHLF.org were created. As I noted in an AmericanHunter.org article, I was particularly grateful to receive the award for this article because it underscores the NRA HLF’s mission to save hunting’s future.
Timing is critical in drawing attention to the NRA HLF and the issue-based NRAHLF.org. Launched in the summer of 2016, the website is a tool for the collective hunting community to keep hunters abreast of hunting issues on the state, national and international levels; expose the lies of animal rights extremists; and tell the positive stories of hunters and hunting. As well-organized, well-funded animal rights extremist groups work to destroy our way of life, we must work just as hard to protect it. Just as important, website material encourages us all to reach out to non-hunters and share why we hunt and what would happen to wildlife if there were no hunting.
The POMA Pinnacle awards were presented during POMA’s annual business conference in partnership with Mossy Oak, the presenting partner since the award program’s inception. “The outdoor media has always been a key part of what we do,” stated Toxey Haas, Mossy Oak founder and CEO. “We started our company with their help and we've grown it with the same. They're our business partners as well as our friends.”
It was rewarding to be recognized amongst peers, who all foster excellence in promoting hunting and hunters’ critical role in wildlife conservation. But in giving credit where it is due, regardless of our professions, every American hunter plays a key role in continuing to protect wildlife species, their habitats and the freedom to enjoy our American hunting traditions.
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