NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AGFC) – Former Arkansas Game and Fish Commission turkey biologist Michael Widner of Conway has earned the National Wild Turkey Federation's prestigious Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to conservation.
Widner accepted the award during the NWTF's 35th annual National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn.
"I am humbled just to have my name mentioned in the same sentence as Wayne Bailey," Widner said. "It was an exciting time and I count myself fortunate that I was heavily involved in wild turkey restoration. Learning how to put wild turkeys back on the landscape and how to sustainably manage them was the best job a person could ask for."
Widner, who retired from the AGFC recently, received the award to honor his 36 consecutive years of conservation work that played an important part in the amazing resurgence of the wild turkey population in North America.
"Wayne Bailey was known to many as the godfather of modern turkey management and was a key player in the development of the NWTF," said James Earl Kenammer, NWTF's chief conservation officer. "Michael's work is the embodiment of what Wayne Bailey stood for and he truly deserves this honor. The NWTF could ask for no better partner."
Widner has a long history of collaboration with the NWTF. He served as Arkansas's NWTF Technical Committee representative for 15 years and worked with the Arkansas NWTF board of directors to implement hundreds of Hunting Heritage State Super Fund habitat and management projects, with more than $1.5 million spent on those projects by the NWTF. He even attended one of the early Hunting Heritage Super Fund banquets in Arkansas.