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JAKES Day introduces kids to the outdoors

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Over 100 youngsters attend local event

By Dwane Wilder

Area youngsters flocked to the inaugural JAKES Day hosted last weekend by Billy and Jamie Ball at the family farm just outside of LaFollette.

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Over 350 people attended the event, including 108 children and youths ages 17-and-under.

“We were shooting for 100 the first year,” said Jamie Ball.

“We already have people interested in coming next year.”

JAKES Day is a community outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). JAKES is an acronym for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship.

According to the NWTF web site, the program “gives kids the chance to explore their outdoor world through hundreds of fun kids-only events held across North America called JAKES Conservation Field Days. During these events, JAKES members get to learn cool skills that they can take to the field to stay safe and have fun.”

Events included an archery range, climbing wall, fishing pond, air rifle range and a Boating Under the Influence simulator to stress safety on the water. Over 100 volunteers staffed the local JAKES Day event. That included volunteers from several organizations and agencies, including the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, National Wild Turkey Federation, Campbell Outdoor Recreation Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Plateau Longbeards from Crossville, the Little T Longbeards from Maryville, and the Pine Mountain Longbeards who hosted the event.

JAKES Day is one of two major community outreach events sponsored by the local chapter of the NWTF. The Pine Mountain Longbeards also host a Wheelin’ Sportsman Hunt during the spring turkey season for hunters with handicaps and disabilities. Anyone interested in joining the Pine Mountain Longbeards can call Billy Ball at 423-871-2200 or check out the Facebook pages at pine mountain longbeards and ball farm event center.