As the November/December issue of Turkey Country magazine arrives in mailboxes, Bryan Perry waits with anticipation and a bit of anxiety.
The president of the N.C. Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is running for the 18-member national board with a chance to put the state on a bigger stage. To do so, he needs the 7,600 chapter members to do what they often do: jump into a project with enthusiasm.
“We’re really trying to get the vote turned out in North Carolina to start impacting some change on the national vote,” said Perry, who lives near Zebulon and hopes to win one of three board positions being chosen by the 300,000 national membership.
Building enthusiasm is a skill Perry, 47, has used to help the state board “really work well together” and benefit the chapter, board member Ken Moore of Winterville said in a phone interview.
“He’s a great visionary,” Moore said. “He has a lot of great ideas to get people working together and motivated.”
That quality caught the attention of N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers.
“Bryan also has an honest, genuine personality that makes him very approachable,” Myers said. “That makes working with him very productive. … Bryan’s leadership has really put the chapter in a great place.”
The chapter supports nonprofit organizations and even the commission, which has faced budget restraints.
“They have a superfund program which our agency is able to tap,” said Evin Stanford, the commission turkey biologist who, like peers in many states, is an adviser. “They’ve really been instrumental in helping us meet some management challenges and make some land acquisitions that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.”
The chapter’s best-known project is its work with turkey restoration in the 1980s and ’90s. The chapter contributed $309,477 of the $925,727 program that included acquiring 1,744 turkeys from other states for release, Stanford said.
The chapter became less visible after restoration ended, but Perry’s four years as president have seen its superfund for projects such as land acquisition more than triple to pass $100,000, even in a struggling economy. Recent projects include the purchase of 60 cameras for wildlife enforcement use.
“This partnership has benefited wild turkeys and hundreds of other species, including deer, grouse, pheasant and songbirds,” Col. Dale Caveny said in a commission statement. “I should be quick to add that those benefits extend to sportsmen, the economy and the general public.”
Some projects target women and disabled sportsmen. A half-dozen JAKES Take Aim trailers with portable shooting galleries are available for youth events, including a Greensboro event that entertained solo moms and their children.
“That program is going to be very effective … getting those children interested and the moms to learn what their children like about the outdoors,” said Eddie Bridges of Greensboro, founder of the N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation, which recently bought Halifax County land with chapter support.
The programs and the support for multiple species drew state board member Richard Conley of Andrews to join one of the 53 local chapters.
“They have always been willing to pitch in,” he said. “And Bryan has been very good about pushing us to do that and aid in these projects.”
Should Perry, part owner of a Raleigh medical transport service, win after voting ends Dec. 31, he will leave the state chapter in good hands.
“We’ve got a talented and diverse board,” he said. “The state will be in really good shape even when I leave, if not better.
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