Ben Franklin so admired the wild turkey that he wrote about making it the national bird of the fledgling United States.

No, the wild turkey is not the familiar Thanksgiving turkey. It is, as Franklin called it, "a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."

Discover more about the wild turkey with Bob Eriksen of the National Wildlife Turkey Federation. Eriksen is presenting a "Wild Turkeys 101" program Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Trexler Environmental Center in the Trexler Nature Preserve, 4935 Orchard Road in Schnecksville.The event is free of charge.

Bob Eriksen spent many years as a field biologist working with the New Jersey Department of Fish and Game in restoring the Eastern Wild Turkey to its home range. He is a certified wildlife biologist who has worked on the research and management of wild turkeys, black bears and other species for thirty-eight years. He currently serves as Director of Conservation Operations for the Northeast region with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation, and is its Regional Biologist for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio

Bob worked for 29 years as a biologist with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Game and the Virginia Game Department. He has a masters degree in wildlife management from Rutgers University, and is an avid hunter and photographer.

Eriksen's Legacy is the success of the Wild Turkey Management Program and has a vast collection of all the turkey hunting stories. His leadership and efforts have helped restore wild turkey populations to record levels and has left an enduring legacy for all turkey hunters.

Eriksen lives in northwestern New Jersey but spends most of his time in the Keystone State. Bob is an avid turkey and deer hunter who started turkey hunting in Pennsylvania back in his college days.

The Wild Turkeys 101 program is designed as an introduction to the natural history and ecology as well as behavior of the wild turkey, touch on research and management of the species and talk about hunting techniques.

The Thanksgiving or domestic Turkey comes from a southern Mexico subspecies of the Wild Turkey. Through selective breeding, the domestic turkey has changed in size, color and form.

The Eastern Wild Turkey, first encountered by the Puritans that founded Jamestown, can grow up to four feet tall with r males reaching 30 pounds. Other varieties of the Wild Turkey are found in Florida and in the western U.S.

The Eastern Wild Turkey was important to the culture of the Lenni Lenape. They consumed both the eggs and meat, and used the feathers in their rituals and headgear. One of the Lenape divisions is the Turkey Clan.

The program is sponsored by the Wildlands Conservancy. Advanced registration is required. To register, contact Maureen Ruhe, Director of Environmental Education, at 610-965-4397 ext. 136 or e-mail [1].

Wildlands Conservancy's mission is to preserve, protect, restore and enhance the land, water, ecological and recreational resources of the Lehigh River and Lehigh Valley.

Directions to Trexler Environmental Center: Take Rt.309 towards Schnecksville to Mill Creek Rd. Turn and go 1.1 miles to the entrance to the North Range of the Trexler Nature preserve. Continue on Mill Creek Rd., past the North Range entrance 1.1 miles to Game Preserve Rd. Turn left 0.3 mile to the entrance to the Central Range of the Trexler Nature Preserve.