Ken and Marcia Polhamus
Galena, Ill. Gun shop and range owners
As state coordinators of the Illinois National Wild Turkey Federation’s JAKES program, Ken and Marcia Polhamus have managed five weeks of hunts for the past three seasons, introducing 75 first- time turkey hunters to the sport. They volunteer as hunter-safety instructors and coordinate shooting demonstrations and their chapter’s Women in the Outdoors workshop.
KEN: Well, it all started when we got married 126 years ago…
MARCIA: Only 38! Ken and I grew up a few blocks apart, and we used to go pheasant hunting after school. It’s a shame how different things have become, and how little time children spend outside. That’s why we volunteer with JAKES and the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s new wildlife education center. We want to help nonhunting parents take their kids hunting.
KEN: We know every day is a fight to build awareness about gun laws and hunting. The best place to start is with the kids: Most of the parents on a JAKES youth hunt are nonhunters, but they get 10 times as excited if their kid shoots a turkey. The kids are happy, but the parents get giddy.
MARCIA: We love it. We don’t do this for the notoriety. We love to see the excitement on the kids’ faces, and the bonds they create.
KEN: One young man signed up last season with his grandfather, because his dad worked constantly. But wouldn’t you know it, he showed up with his dad and you couldn’t bust those two apart—arms around each other’s shoulders the whole time.
MARCIA: We feel lucky that our chapter got us involved and stood behind us, and now we’ve got something going every weekend. Hopefully, someone will read this and be inspired to try the same thing where they live.
KEN: Just pick an organization, make some phone calls, join a committee.
MARCIA: It’s worth it.