Lead Volunteers Connect at Elk Camp
By Jennifer Nieland, Wisconsin State Co-chair
Elk Camp is packed with seminars, auctions, banquets, entertainment and plenty more fun stuff to keep a state chair like me busy for three days. But before the fun starts, RMEF’s state and regional chairs must gather to take care of business.
We got together on Wednesday afternoon for our formal meeting. Everyone was grinning from ear-to-ear—and the laughing, back-slapping and hugging was so rampant that it was hard to get everyone to take their seats. After a heart-felt rendition of “Zippity Do Da,” we were reminded to turn our cell phones to vibrate, lest we lose $100 to the cell phone penalty. Then we jumped right into it.
First on the agenda was a recap of 2011 RMEF mission accomplishments, which included several milestones. Not only did RMEF meet the 6 million-acre mark for habitat conservation, it also helped restore an elk herd to the state of Missouri! The organization also reached an all-time high for memberships at more than 185,000. RMEF vice president of marketing Steve Decker received a standing ovation when he announced that RMEF Team Elk was voted the best new show on the Outdoor Channel, winning a Golden Moose Award.
Next, RMEF president and CEO David Allen joined us to provide some perspective on our new Las Vegas location. He said that Elk Camp needs to grow—attracting more first-time attendees and more young attendees—and Vegas is the place to make that happen. Allen also noted that RMEF’s emphasis for the coming years is “Hunting is Conservation,” and that includes working toward science-based predator management supported at the state level.
Finally, eastern regional co-chair Russ Bumgardner rounded out the meeting by reminding us of the importance of communication, and his fellow co-chair Denny Edmonson echoed with tips on leading successful conference calls. These two items are the backbone of most State Leadership Teams. Overall the meeting provided a very interesting update of RMEF activities which state and regional chairs can take back to share with their chapters.
After that, our next stop was a reception with the RMEF board of directors. This was a nice, informal way to mix and mingle and make more of those connections and friendships, which are truly what makes this organization tick. The view from my state chair that day ended overlooking the Las Vegas strip, watching a beautiful sunset surrounded by even more new friends. I still haven’t stopped smiling!