This USDA Forest Service wildlife biologist believes you can make a difference in the world. All you have to do is try.
Turkey Country: You have been an NWTF member for 17 years. How did you first hear about us and how did you get involved?
Liz Caldwell: I was asked to help with a Morgan County Chapter banquet in 1995, when David Moss was chapter president.
There was a huge crowd and I presented a program for the JAKES that evening on wildlife in our national forest in Georgia.
TC: Tell us about the projects and activities you have been involved in as an NWTF member.
LC: As a member and biologist, I have been active in chapter banquets and fundraisers since 1995 in various counties. I participated in and hosted JAKES events not only in my eight-county area, but other places around the state as well.
I have been involved with Georgia State Chapter Wheelin' Sportsmen and Women in the Outdoors events. I help the Morgan County, Oconee Longbeards and the Jasper County chapters with their banquets and work a booth during the Georgia State Chapter meetings.
I've attended the NWTF Convention since 2000, working in the USDA Forest Service booths and attending technical meetings.
Part of my responsibilities is to apply for NWTF Super Fund dollars for habitat improvement projects on the Oconee National Forest. Since 1999, we increased and maintained several hundred acres of forest for the benefit of wild turkeys and other species.
I've been involved with the JAKES Day on our forest every May. We have grown from 25 participants to more than 350 and had an outstanding year when we received the 2004 Best JAKES Day Event.
TC: Why is it important to be a member of the NWTF?
LC: If you want to make a difference in this world you have to be involved. If you love the outdoors and wildlife and have a passion for carrying on a tradition of hunting ethics and values, the NWTF is a great organization to join.
The NWTF family is solid and meaningful. In a time of tight budgets, we are still finding a way to educate youth and the public while managing for our natural resources and hunting heritage. The NWTF covers it all — education, fun, management of our natural resources, tradition, conservation, the right to bear arms, and hunting opportunities for the wild turkey, as well as other species.
TC: Tell us about yourself and your job.
LC: I grew up in Toccoa, Ga., and hunted and fished as young girl. My grandmother was my fishing buddy early in life. My family always hunted together.
I graduated from the University of Georgia and have worked with the USDA Forest Service since 1990, where I was a co-op student on the Chattahoochee National Forest for four years. After graduating in 1994, I started work on the Oconee National Forest as a wildlife biologist.
I have been a conservation education teacher in local schools and am involved in 4-H programs in Jasper and Putnam counties. I also serve as an archery coach, wildlife judging team coach and conservation education teacher.
I was selected as one of six parent volunteers as a 2012 Parent Volunteer of the Year in Georgia. — Gregg Powers
What NWTF staff says about Liz
"The old saying, 'If you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know.' That's Liz," said NWTF Regional Biologist Lynn Lewis-Weiss. "She's very involved with her community, church, children's school activities and more, but she still has time for the NWTF — as a volunteer for her local chapter and in her professional capacity as a wildlife biologist.
"Conservation is her passion, on and off the clock. She knows she can call on the NWTF and we can depend on her for help on any project or event."
Recent construction of the new shooting range at Cedar Creek WMA on Oconee National Forest is a prime example of Liz's tenacity.
"It took her years to garner the funding and partner support for that project, in which NWTF was a proud partner." Lewis-Weiss said. "But she kept at it and saw the project through. Now hunters and gun enthusiasts across Georgia have a wonderful facility to use."