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Arkansas Game & Fish Foundation Hall of Fame Banquet Sept. 7
LITTLE ROCK ¬- The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation will hold its Hall of Fame Banquet on Sept. 7 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The event will be hosted by Foundation Chairman Bobby Martin.

Martin brings his genuine enthusiasm for promoting youth education to the Foundation. "From all parts of Arkansas, as individuals and as groups, our message can be heard and our actions do make a difference," Martin said. "We can solve problems. We can encourage Arkansans to pursue hunting, fishing and watchable wildlife activities," he explained. "Also, and most importantly, we can ensure that young Arkansans across our state have the chance to be exposed to the great outdoors and enjoy the heritage we all value. One way the Foundation will help accomplish this is by bringing youth-focused initiatives to the forefront of our efforts, strengthening the Foundation's leadership and relevance statewide," he added.

The Foundation, created in 1982, is the independently operated foundation supporting the goals of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Proceeds from the Sept. 7 banquet and silent auction will help finance the Foundation's continuing mission to support youth education initiatives that focus on the outdoors, including the archery and youth shooting sports programs that currently serve over 7,000 Arkansas youths. The Foundation provides resources for education centers around the state that incorporate biology initiatives used by the Arkansas Department of Education.

Tickets for the Sept. 7 event are $100 each. The reception and silent auction will begin at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Auction items will include a youth elk hunting permit, a bear den trip for four, several premium duck hunting opportunities, the Ducks Unlimited Gun of the Year and much more. There also will be a raffle for one lifetime hunting and fishing license.

At the event, three former commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, who were closely involved with major outdoor-related advancements in the late 1990s, will be honored as the 2012 inductees into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. Witt Stephens Jr., a Little Rock businessman, worked to improve deer management, starting with a 3-point rule on bucks. Bill Bridgforth, a Pine Bluff attorney, helped the Commission steer a sensible course from its days of severe financial constraints to the opportunities provided by the 1/8th-Cent Conservation Sales Tax when it began in July of 1997. Rick Evans of Calion, a timber and lumber businessman, used his background in south Arkansas deer and turkey pursuits, to make statewide improvements with these popular game animals, and with wildlife in general.

In addition to the traditional banquet and ceremony, the Foundation will be presenting a new Legacy Award to recognize individuals whose lifelong commitment to the outdoors, conservation, and the passing on of our outdoor traditions to the next generation have benefitted Arkansas. The first Legacy Award will be presented posthumously in honor of Wallace Claypool. Claypool purchased land near Weiner in northeastern Arkansas in 1941 for the purpose of building a sanctuary for ducks. The reservoir he built on that property put Arkansas duck hunting on the map when, during a 1956 live broadcast of NBC's "Dave Garroway Show," cameras captured 300,000 ducks taking flight from the ponds at Claypool. This was one of the first live, remote broadcasts in television history.

"I encourage anyone who is passionate about Arkansas nature to join us for the Sept. 7 event, where we will celebrate our Natural State, honor the individuals who've made contributions to its protection, and raise funds for the education of Arkansas youth on issues related to the preservation of our outdoor traditions," Martin said. "The Foundation has far-reaching goals for the future, but our goals can only be accomplished through the support of nature-loving Arkansans."

To purchase tickets to the event or for more information, contact Wendy Henderson of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation at 501-223-6468.