GREENVILLE – The Light Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2001 by three-time Super Bowl champion and former New England Patriot Matt Light, is gearing up for its 10th annual youth wild turkey hunt scheduled to kick off on Friday and wrap up on Sunday.
The actual hunt will take place on Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of the foundation’s 400-plus acre facility, Chenoweth Trails, in Greenville 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 on Friday night at The Eagles on Shade Road in Greenville at 4:30p.m.
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 and Darke County area schools through a public service announcement campaign, asking for those interested in participating to fill out an application. He had interested youth also submit a 500-600 word typed essay on the following topic: “Peer pressure, decision making and life choices.”
The feedback for applicants was overwhelming, and Light and his team from the camp will be taking 16 kids out on a youth hunt. Participants must be able to present a valid 2018 Ohio hunting license during registration, and first-time hunters also need to pass a hunter safety course or comply with apprentice rules. This year’s hunters are: Brock Barga, Oakley Brubaker, Milan Denlinger, Joel Gehret, Jenna Godown, Caleb Hartman, Ray Keller, Devin Kuhbander, Graham Milligan, Isaac Mills, Luke Perreira, Nathan Perreira, Wyatt Rammel, Hope Schaaf, Alli Whiting and Austin Wolf.
“These kids will have so much fun hunting and learning techniques to practice the sport safely. They’ll also have a chance to get even more involved in the community by volunteering at our foundation’s Chenoweth Trails facility,” Light said. “We’ve been doing this now for a decade, and it’s always a great time. We honestly get just as much out of it as the kids do.”
Many area businesses have graciously stepped up to support the event, including sponsors: Koenig Equipment, Frank Miller Lumber, Pheasants Forever, Eco-Vehicle Systems, Jason Fleming Family, Bob Evans, Field & Stream, Eikenberry’s IGA, Quaker Boy, Sharp’s Tavern, MaidRites, Frito Lay, Specialty Hybrid, Jerry’s Laundry, Channel Seed (SonLight), FOE #2177 (Eagles), Thompson Center, Vandalia Range & Armory, Darke County Fish & Game, and Bettker Taxidermy. Firearms manufacturer Thompson Center continues to play a significant role, lending product support year after year.
The Light Foundation would also like to thank WTGR, Darke County schools and Alex Stewart, all youth guides, spotters, committee, sponsors and all the private landowners who have donated the use of their land for the event.
“This weekend is made possible by the community coming together,” Light said. “Without the generous help from all parts of our community, a successful youth hunt wouldn’t be possible.”
The Light Foundation’s mission is to instill and augment the core values of responsibility, accountability and hard work by providing youth with opportunities geared toward helping them reach their highest potential.
The Light Foundation’s initiatives include various programs for at-risk teens in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Orleans, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; Hammond and West Lafayette, Indiana, and Light’s home state of Ohio.
In 2009, the foundation opened its outdoor leadership camp, Camp Vohokase at Chenoweth Trails, which has been upgraded and expanded with more trails, additional living quarters, an outdoor cooking and eating area, a firepit for fireside chats, a timber frame pavilion for large-group meetings and events, a stocked fishing pond and an outdoor amphitheater.
Light plans to expand the locations his campers come from every few years, and the foundation tracks all who attend year-round to ensure they stay on course. He also plans to keep holding community-based events such as the youth hunt, which aids his nonprofit in serving as a beacon for other charitable organizations, athletes and youth. Over the course of the last year, more than 7,000 people used the Chenoweth Trails facility.
Light is especially excited about this event. He thinks it’s the perfect way for young adults 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 said. “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.”