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Clay Electric employee Mike Winka, coordinator for JAKES event, announces upcoming event for area youth

The Ray Winka Farm owned by Ray and Irene Winka located just north of Flora has been the site of the Clay County Cutters and Strutters chapter of The National Wild Turkey Federation’s J.A.K.E.S. event for nearly 10 years. JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge Ethics and Sportsmanship.

Each September, youth from the area gather to enjoy a day filled with hands-on outdoor ­activities as well as a wide range of displays and demon­strations from individuals and various agencies.

The event includes but is not ­limited to fishing, archery, clay and still target shotgun stations, BB gun and air rifle range, turkey calling, tree stand safety, and a face painting station was added last year for some of the younger participants to enjoy.

Agencies and individuals that have been involved in the past include Illinois State Police K-9 unit, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Clay County Sherriff’s office, Illinois Trappers Association, Illinois Raptor Center, Local Boy Scout Troop, and champion call maker Don Bald from Lebanon, Ill. A retriever demonstration, frontier ­reenactment, live snake ­display, birds of prey display and seminar, and IDNR trailer have also been attractions at past events.

Attendance has been ­averaging between 80 and 100 participants, and ­parents may attend or come and go at their convenience. The event is still free with lunch and ­usually some door prizes provided. It is made ­possible from funds from the annual NWTF ­banquet, ­donations from local ­businesses and ­individuals, and sponsors make it possible to ­provide all attendees with a t-shirt.

The event is mainly ­targeted to get some younger people involved and ­interested in the outdoors and the activities that are provided.

In following one of the Seven Cooperative Principles, “Commitment to Community,” Clay Electric employee Mike Winka has been ­coordinator of the event for the past 10 years.

“A lot of phone calls, ­planning and hard work go into ­organizing this event, and it wouldn’t be ­possible without local donations and the help of our NWTF committee ­members and volunteers who work the ­stations during the day and Ray and Irene for letting us use the farm.

“After talking with the kids, so many tell me 'this is my first-time fishing or first-time shooting.' This is our objective of what we are ­trying to accomplish.”

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, September 16.