GREENVILLE — The Light Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2001 by three-time Super Bowl Champion and New England Patriot Matt Light and his wife, Susie, is gearing up for its 14th annual Youth Wild Turkey Hunt, scheduled to kick off on Friday, April 14 and wrap up on Sunday, April 16, 2023. The actual hunt will take place on Saturday and Sunday, on the grounds of the Foundation’s 450-plus acre facility, Chenoweth Trails, in Greenville, Ohio, as well as on land all over Darke County cleared for access by local land owners. A kick-off dinner, safety training and orientation for all participating youth hunters will take place at Chenoweth Trails on April 14.
Once again, the Light Foundation called on area youth, between the ages of 12 and 17, who enjoy the outdoors, are interested in exploring wildlife habitats, and want to support conservation efforts to take part in the Youth Wild Turkey Hunt. Light and his team reached out to the local community through a public service announcement campaign – asking for those interested in participating to fill out an application. They had interested youth also submit a 500-word typed essay on the following topic: “Friends, Family & Memories. What do they mean to you?”
The feedback for applicants was overwhelming, and the Light Foundation will be taking 16 young people hunting this year as well as having them participate in hands-on leadership activities! Participants must be able to present a valid 2022 Ohio hunting license during registration, and first-time hunters also need to pass a Hunter Safety Course or comply with apprentice. This year’s hunters are Bohdan Menzie, Braden Gilbert, Brock Durst, Caleb Hartman, Cali Harter, Clair Rammel, Ethan Hartman, Lexi Biddlestone, Libby Harter, Luke Rammel, Natalie Finch, Nathan Wright, Trevar Martin, Trey Rammel, Wes Keller, and Wesley Baker.
“We are excited to have back two previous youth hunters as leadership mentors this year, Carrie Rhoades and Wyatt Rammel! These senior classmen will be leading fireside chats, assist with planned activities, and instructing the youth on how to report their harvest to the ODNR. They will be leading by example and showing the younger youth what it takes to be a great leader all of which brings our Leadership Academy to a full circle!” says April Brubaker, Program Director.
“These young people will have so much fun hunting, meeting new friends, and learning techniques to practice the sport safely while also participating in conservation efforts,” says Matt Light. “We’ve been doing this now for over a decade, and it’s always a great time. We get just as much out of it as the kids do!”
Many area businesses have graciously stepped up to support the event! A huge thank you goes to our top sponsors: Moose Lodge #329 and the National and Ohio State Chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Next up to thank is our Full Strut Sponsors: American Legion #140, Koenig Equipment, Inc., Thompson Center, Mossy Oak, Quaker Boy, and Stachler Concrete, Inc. A nod of gratitude goes to our Long Beard Sponsors: ALPS Outdoorz, Bettker Taxidermy, Eikenberry’s IGA, Evolution Gun Works, Hevi-Shot, Sarge Knives, Smith & Wesson, Winner’s Meats, and Woodhaven Custom Calls. Our Gobbler Sponsors stepped up to help too! Thank you to: Channel Seed (Sonlight Farms LLC), Frank Miller Lumber, Francis Furniture, Kline Timber Company, ONX Hunt, Pheasants Forever, Vandalia Range & Armory, Beanz Butter Cream, Kristi’s Cakes, VPP, and Whistle Stop.
The Light Foundation would also like to thank all the youth mentor guides, volunteers, committee members, and all the private landowners who have donated the use of their land for the event. “This weekend event is made possible by the community coming together”, Light says, “And without the generous help from so many, a successful youth hunt wouldn’t be possible.”
Light looks forward to this event each year. He feels it’s the perfect way for young people to take part in a unique outdoor learning experience, being supervised and guided by a team of veteran hunters who share their love of the sport.
“This weekend the kids get to experience what hunting and exploring nature has to offer — hopefully topped off by bagging a big bird! Getting to come back to the camp this spring and help establish the wildlife habitat, is a great opportunity to give back to the land,” he notes. “Making these lessons come full circle is an important part of the outdoor lifestyle, and is what has attracted me to the sport since I was a kid myself.”
The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt expanded to Rhode Island for the first-time last year, and will continue to be offered with the hunt taking place at the end of this month. They are also in the process of preparing for other local, annual programs, which include the Matt Light All-Conference Football Camp, Timber Frame Leadership Camp, LIGHT Project, and Hooked on Fishing. The Foundation is also gearing up to host 16 young people – three from Darke County and 13 from other parts of the United States – during their Vohokase Cultural Leadership Program, which takes place in June at Chenoweth Trails.
For more information about the Light Foundation or the Chenoweth Trails facility, visit their website: mattlight72.com or their social media channels: @lightfoundation.