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 11th annual Youth Wild Turkey Hunt.
The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt is scheduled to kick off on April 12 and wrap up on April 14. The actual hunt will take place on April 13 and 14 on the grounds of the foundation’s 400-plus acre facility, Chenoweth Trails, near 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 at 5 p.m. April 12 at Chenoweth Trails.
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: “How has having a hobby affected your life.”
The feedback for applicants was overwhelming, and Light and his team from the camp will take 18 youth hunting this year. The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt has been at 16 hunters for quite some time and organizers decided that due to the demand to increase the number of hunters by two, with six junior high students and 12 high schoolers with two girls.
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.
This year’s hunters are Taylor Armstrong, Brock Barga, Oakley Brubaker, Milan Denlinger, Luke Drew, Brock Durst, Caleb Hartman, Ethan Hartman, Ben Hartzell, Brant Helman, Ben Keller, Keara Knepshield, Graham Milligan, Colin Moody, Luke Perrera, Nathan Perrera, Collin Sloan and Austin Wolf.
“These kids will have so much fun hunting and learning techniques to practice the sport safely,” Light said. “They’ll also have a chance to get even more involved in the community by volunteering at our foundation’s Chenoweth Trails facility. We’ve been doing this now for over 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 stepped up to support the event, and this year the foundation has a record number of sponsors with 18 of them being first-time sponsors of the event.
This year’s sponsors are American Legion Post No. 140; BASF; ALPS Outdoorz; Bettker Taxidermy; Bob Evans; Channel Seed (SonLight); Eco-Vehicle Systems, LLC; Eikenberry’s IGA; Federal Premium; Francis Furniture; Frank Miller Lumber; Friends of the NRA; Greenville Moose; GSM Outdoors/Walker’s; Hersh’s Custom Calls; Higdon Outdoors; Hunter Specialty; Innerloc’s Out-There; Jason Fleming Family; Jerry’s Laundry; Koenig Equipment; MaidRite; Mossy Oak; Mote Farm Service, Inc.; ODNR Division of Wildlife; Pheasants Forever; Plano Synergy – Zink/Flexstone/Avian X; Primos; QuakerBoy; ShadeTree Calls; Sharp’s Tavern; Specialty Hybrid; Studio ‘93 Films; The Woody Wood Shop; Thompson Center; Vandalia Range & Armory; Whistle Stop and Winners Meats. Jason Fleming Family and QuakerBoy are the title sponsors year after year.
The Light Foundation thanked WTGR, Darke County schools, Bianca Keener from Bradford’s Publications Class, The Daily Advocate, The Early Bird and all youth guides, spotters, committee members, sponsors and all the private landowners who donated the use of their land for the event.
“This weekend event is made possible by the community coming together,” Light said. “And 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; 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,” he said. “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. Making these lessons come full circle is an important part of the outdoor lifestyle, and is what has attracted to the sport since I was a kid myself.”
For more information about Camp Vohokase or the Chenoweth Trails facility, contact April Brubaker at 937-316-6352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.