EDGEFIELD, S.C. — After 30 years of distinguished service, including 27 years as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rob Keck has decided, for personal and family reasons, to step aside from his duties with the Federation as of June 1, 2008.

Wednesday morning, the NWTF’s National Board of Directors reluctantly accepted this decision. Under Mr. Keck’s leadership, the NWTF has grown into one of the nation’s premier conservation organizations.

The NWTF is a grassroots, nonprofit organization with more than 550,000 members in 50 states, Canada, Mexico and 14 other foreign countries. It supports scientific wildlife management on public, private and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional North American sport.

In 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in Fredericksburg, Va. At that time, there were an estimated 1.3 million wild turkeys and 1.5 million turkey hunters. Shortly after its founding, the NWTF moved to Edgefield, S.C., where it is headquartered today.

Thanks to the work of federal, state and provincial wildlife agencies and the NWTF’s many volunteers and partners, there are now more than 7 million wild turkeys and nearly 3 million turkey hunters. Turkey hunting has become the fastest growing form of hunting and has the second-highest number of participants of any type of hunting.

Since 1985, more than $258 million NWTF and cooperator dollars have been spent on upholding hunting traditions and conserving more than 13.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. Hunters have also benefited as the NWTF has worked tirelessly to support our hunting heritage and protect and promote laws that increase hunting opportunity and safety.

The NWTF’s National Board of Directors will immediately begin a nationwide search for Mr. Keck’s successor.

–Steve Hickoff