James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., has been named Chief Conservation Officer for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The organization said the announcement “reflects both the importance of conservation to the NWTF and the commitment that Dr. Kennamer has shown toward the NWTF and conservation.”

Kennamer has spent 28 years at the helm of the NWTF's conservation programs department working with wildlife agencies to restore wild turkey populations in the United States and Canada. Before coming to the NWTF, Kennamer was a tenured professor of wildlife biology at Auburn University.

“I've worked with only a few people during my career who I would call exceptional, and James Earl is one of them,” said NWTF CEO George Thornton during the announcement at the Winter Sales Meeting. “His commitment to conservation and the National Wild Turkey Federation is unparalleled in the conservation world.”

Kennamer, who held the title of NWTF senior vice president for conservation programs, said he was surprised by the announcement.

“This is a tremendous honor for me and completely unexpected,” said an emotional Dr. Kennamer. “It's an honor to work with such a committed group of conservationists and volunteers at the NWTF.”

Kennamer has played a key role in forging the partnerships between hunters and wildlife agencies, corporations and conservation groups, which have helped restore turkey populations across North America. The organization said his work with wildlife agencies has made a difference, moving turkey populations from 1.3 million in 1973 to more than 7 million today.

“We understand the importance of conservation to our members,” Thornton said. “This promotion reflects the absolute importance of conservation to the Federation. We will continue this commitment to conservation, which will enable us to continue our hunting heritage and pass on our traditions to the next generation.”