Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Names James Earl Kennamer 2017 Outstanding Alumnus

Kennamer, who later earned a Master’s and Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, is part of a multi-generational family of Auburn wildlife alumni and faculty

The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences recognized James Earl Kennamer, a 1964 game management graduate and former faculty member, as the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient during a presentation at its advisory council meeting March 1 in Auburn.

Kennamer, who later earned a Master’s and Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, is part of a multi-generational family of Auburn wildlife alumni and faculty. The son of Earl Kennamer, Auburn’s first Wildlife Extension Specialist, Kennamer’s own son, Lee, is also a wildlife graduate of Auburn.

It has been said that Kennamer is the embodiment of the Auburn Creed. “He grew up there, went to Auburn schools, attended Auburn, served on its City Council, and was lucky enough to return to teach after he earned his Ph.D,” said Lee Kennamer. “He’s received many awards for his professional contributions over the years, but Auburn is where he always called home.”

Kennamer served as a member of Auburn’s faculty before accepting a position with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation (NWTF) in 1980.  Within this role, Kennamer was instrumental in building the conservation department and formed a technical committee which became the driving force in the nationwide trap and transfer of wild turkeys, a method that helped to restore wild turkey populations across the continent.

Kennamer later served as NWTF Chief Conservation Officer for Conservation and Outreach Programs and eventually headed the department for 32 years where he was responsible for coordinating the NWTF programs with state and federal agencies, private organizations and companies throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Kennamer now serves as the Development Advisor to the NWTF’s CEO, where he continues to dedicate his time toward conservation through his fundraising efforts.

He has written many feature articles in Turkey Country magazine and had one of the longest running magazine columns in the outdoor industry. He has also authored over 50 scientific papers, including chapters in four books.

Kennamer has been involved with the NWTF’s television shows Turkey Call, and Get in the Game. He is a professional member of the Boone & Crockett Club and co-chaired at one time the North American’s Hunting Heritage Steering Committee representing the United States.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences recognizes outstanding alumni annually. Award recipients must not only be a graduate of the school; their careers must demonstrate a history of outstanding contributions to forestry or wildlife sciences within the state, nationally or internationally; while exhibiting exemplary character and integrity.

Among the many honors and awards bestowed in recognition of his lifetime contributions to wildlife conservation, Kennamer has been recognized by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, The Wildlife Management Institute, and various sections and divisions of The Wildlife Society.

In 2010, Kennamer was appointed to the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program Advisory Panel by Tom Vilsack, the 30th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2011, he was recognized by the USDA Forest Service for his exemplary leadership at the National Wild Turkey Federation with the Forest Restoration Award.

At the NWTF 2016 National Convention in Nashville, TN, the NWTF Board of Directors awarded Kennamer with its first Lifetime Achievement Award and will now bestow its annual national scholarship in his honor.

During the March award presentation in Auburn, Kennamer accepted his award wistfully, sharing the internal struggle that came with he, and wife Mary’s, choice to leave Auburn.  

“I was able to fulfill my lifelong dream of working with turkeys, and I have been able to do that with the rank and file in this country, with astronauts, with politicians, and see and do things that I never would have imagined, if I hadn’t made that decision,” said Kennamer. “Leaving was a hard thing to do, but coming back is special…I have come full circle.”

The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is a flagship for forestry and wildlife, and natural resources programs in Alabama and beyond. With world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, the school offers a range of academic and research programs within the areas of forestry, wildlife, natural resource management, geospatial and environmental informatics, and sustainable biomaterials and packaging.


Contacts: Jamie Anderson, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, (334) 844-9248 (; or Charles Martin, Auburn University Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (

Media note: Photographs are available on the Office of Communications and Marketing website.