MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WFXR) – Twelve-year-old Bethany Gilbert of Martinsville recently took part in the National Wild Turkey Federation’s JAKES Essay contest and has come out the national winner. Making her the first Virginian in 34 years to win this essay competition. JAKES or Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship program was started in the 1980s as a way to inform, educate and involve youth in wildlife conservation and stewardship of our natural resources.
“She has such passion and desire in everything she does, she just really wants to do her best and excel.”Jessica ‘Paige’ Gilbert – Mother
Excel is exactly what Bethany has done. Her interests are far and wide her mother explains.
“She loves art, I mean just anything she can… music, and she does great at it cause she puts her heart and soul into it.Jessica ‘Paige’ Gilbert – Mother
Unlike most girls her age, Bethany explains she started her love of the outdoors at an even younger age.
“I started hunting when I was about four or five years old. So, I was really young… of course I didn’t start using a gun until later after that but I’ve been in the woods since I was really little.Bethany Gilbert – 2020 NWTF JAKES Essay Winner
The topic Bethany chose to write her essay on was focused on conservation efforts and why it is important for the natural habitat of all animals.
“…if you let an animal, per se turkeys were to get over popluated it would eat the food and take up the things that other animals would need… causing other animals numbers to lower.”Bethany Gilbert – 2020 NWTF JAKES Essay Winner
The National Wild Turkey Federation allows one guardian to accompany the essay winners to Nashville Tennessee, but in Bethany’s case, the NWTF allowed the entire family to take part in the event.
“The NWTF actually let our whole family go to Nashville, it really was supposed to be for one guardian but they were real kind to let us all go out there.”Jessica ‘Paige’ Gilbert – Mother
The NWTF program holds an annual event that showcases leaders in the outdoor sports industry. Each year they accept one applicant for their essay contest from their JAKES membership. For more information on the National Wild Turkey Federation and the JAKES program click here for info on NWTF and here for info on JAKES.