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Overnight Youth Wild Turkey Hunt for 12-15 year olds. Apply now, RI DEM and The Light Foundation

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Photo: RI DEM

Application deadline March 10th

 The Light Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2001 by three-time Super Bowl Champion and former NFL New England Patriot Matt Light and his wife Susie Light, is again teaming up with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) for their fourth annual mentored Youth Wild Turkey Hunt this spring.

The two-day event featuring an overnight camp set for Friday, April 19-20 is free and open to youths 12 to 15 years old, whether they are first-time or proficient hunters. The joint initiative involves a mentored wild turkey hunt as part of the annual program, scheduled to take place during Rhode Island’s youth turkey weekend.

The event kicks off on Friday, April 19 with a welcome dinner the day before the hunt, at Addieville East Farm in Mapleville, Rhode Island. During the welcome dinner, youth hunters will meet and spend time with their mentors and take part in an orientation that covers topics including firearm safety and hunting rules and regulations. The following day on April 20, youth hunters, paired with their experienced mentors, will partake in a wild turkey hunt. The hunt will also include a curriculum based on leadership. Eligible applicants must apply at The Light Foundation’s website by March 10.

“Teaming up with three-time Super Bowl Champion Matt Light, Susie Light, and The Light Foundation is a terrific opportunity for DEM and youth hunters in Rhode Island,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “Mentored hunts teach responsibility and stewardship for natural resources. We’re grateful that The Light Foundation is committed to empowering young people to experience and enjoy the outdoors and inspiring the next generation of the responsible hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and leaders.”

“This partnered hunt strives to provide positive hunting experiences for youth while teaching them and their families the importance of sustainability, firearm safety, conservation, and outdoor ethics,” said Matt Light. “Mentored hunts also instill values of responsibility and conservation of natural resources. Our dedication lies in empowering youth to engage with and appreciate the outdoors, fostering a generation of conscientious hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and leaders.”

Light will be on hand for the event and welcome dinner and will also serve as a mentor during the youth hunt, along with many other experienced mentors and DEM staff. Applicants seeking participation in the 2024 youth mentored turkey hunt must fall within the age range of 12 to 15 years old by April 20, 2024.

A prerequisite for consideration involves submitting a 500-word essay addressing the theme “What Matters to You?” Submissions will undergo evaluation by an impartial committee, with top candidates earning the exceptional opportunity for an overnight stay at Pheasant Ridge Lodge to engage in the youth hunt. DEM encourages prospective participants to apply here before the deadline of March 10, 2024. Successful applicants must secure a Rhode Island hunting license and turkey permit before the scheduled hunt. Statewide in Rhode Island, the youth turkey hunting season is April 18-24, providing a chance for 12 to 15-year-olds a chance to hunt wild turkey. Parents or guardians assisting youths are prohibited from possessing a firearm and hunting during the youth wild turkey hunting days. 

The Light Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people develop the skills, values, and mindset they need to create a meaningful and productive future. Matt Light will be on hand for the event and plans to attend the welcome dinner and serve as a mentor on the day of the youth hunt. This youth program aligns with the Light Foundation and DEM’s commitment to build opportunities for young people to experience and enjoy the outdoors and inspire the next generation of responsible hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and leaders. Along with DEM and The Light Foundation, program sponsors include The Thompson Center, Addieville East Farm, and Pheasant Ridge Lodge. 

Hunter Education is offered as part of the DFW’s Hunter Education Program. Safety training is required by law in Rhode Island for beginning hunters. To date, more than 40,000 people have completed a hunter safety course in Rhode Island, helping to reduce related accidents in the state and elsewhere. A complete schedule of hunter Educational offerings is available online here.

Hunting has a long tradition in Rhode Island, supporting family customs, connecting people with nature, and attracting tourism to the state. Hunters provide funding for wildlife conservation through their purchase of firearms and ammunition through the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program, and through the purchase of their state hunting licenses. Hunters and anglers purchase around 70,000 licenses, permits, stamps, and tags each year and contribute more than $235 million to Rhode Island’s economy. 

With the help of hunters, DEM has protected thousands of acres for wildlife in RI, continued our research and monitoring efforts for both Game and non-Game birds and maMMAls, established a strong research partnership with University of Rhode Island, and continue to provide hunter Education and wildlife outreach opportunities for the public. Without the contribution of legal and responsible hunters, DEM would not be able to conserve and protect our state’s wildlife. 

DEM’s turkey restoration program, which ran from 1980 to 1996, resulted in increased opportunities for the public to see and hunt wild turkeys. The restoration project released wild trapped birds that established new turkey flocks in Exeter, Burrillville, Little Compton, West Greenwich, Foster, Scituate, and Tiverton. Today, wild turkeys are found in practically all areas of the state and provide recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities. Restoration of the wild turkey was funded by state hunting license fees and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates. Follow DFW on Facebook and Instagram (@ri.fishandwildlife) to stay up to date on news, events and volunteer opportunities. You can also subscribe to DFW’s monthly newsletter here.

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