Mississippi Wildlife Foundation holds first conservation raffle

Published 4:23 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation held its first conservation raffle fundraiser drawing, raising $130,000 from nearly 18,000 tickets sold Monday evening. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves spoke at the event and drew names for the five prizes. 

Director of Programs Michele Carter said she hopes the foundation can grow the event. Tennessee has a similar Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, which will offer 10 prizes this year in its 4th annual raffle.

According to ABC News in Chattanooga, the foundation supporting the state wildlife agency sold 150,000 tickets so far this year. Last year the raffle raised $1.88 million for the Tennessee wildlife agency. Carter said she hopes Mississippi’s Wildlife Foundation will grow to those numbers one day. 

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“In 2003 the department created this foundation, and we are the fundraiser for MDWFP and others. Thursday night, we went to a Super Hunt banquet to help sponsor them,” Carter said. “We do other things too, but the MDWFP is our biggest fundraising responsibility. Anything we do is to help the agency.” 

The $130,000 raised this year will help the department with anything it needs. 

Each commission meeting, commission chair Bill Cossar reminds people the MDWFP’s budget is funded 90 percent by license sales and permit revenue. License sales fully fund Mississippi’s Wildlife, Fisheries and Law Enforcement bureaus. Parks and the Museum have additional help with funding. 

Prizes this year included a $50,000 Ford Vehicle voucher, a Legends Turkey hunt with Cuz Strickland and Preston Pittman, an African Safari package, a trip to Argentina for a dove hunt and a sportsman package which included an e-bike, savage rifle, a canoe, a blind and spotting kit. The prizes were all graciously donated, she said. 

Carter said about 95 percent of the funds raised by the foundation go back into the MDWFP. The other five percent is given to other conservation groups such as Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited or Super Hunt. 

Carter said she spent much of Tuesday calling the five winners. 

“I bet between the five winners, I was on the phone for about two hours. They were so excited. I got their backstories, and they were so thrilled,” Carter said. 

Four of the winners live in Mississippi. A man in Prentiss was one of the winners. Carter said one of the winners got the call during a zoom meeting and was able to celebrate with his team. 

She said the most touching winner was an grandfather from Arkansas who spends six months out of the year in Grenada fishing on Enid Lake. He plans to use his prize on his grandson. 

“I enjoyed it. I’m a giver by nature, and being able to give something back this year was awesome and talking with the winners was great,” Carter said. “I called the man from Arkansas while he was fishing on Enid Lake. He was in the bass boat hooping and hollering. He plans to take his grandson for a senior trip to Argentina to dove hunt with his prize.”

The Mississippi Wildlife Foundation hosts a Governor’s hunt in February, which Carter said Reeves attends faithfully. At the end of February, the foundation hosts the Ag and Outdoor Expo at Trademark, which coincides with the Dixie National Rodeo. 

In the spring, the foundation will kick off their second annual conservation raffle. Each August, the foundation hosts their fall Ag and Outdoor expo. Anyone who is interested in giving financially to the foundation can do so at foundationmwfp.com. All donations are tax deductible.