Elk NetworkLee, Jacqui Swanson Receive RMEF’s Highest Honor

News Releases | July 29, 2019

July 29, 2019

Lee, Jacqui Swanson Receive RMEF’s Highest Honor

MISSOULA, Mont.—For their contributions of lasting significance to the benefit of elk and elk country across North America, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation bestowed its highest honor, the Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award, upon Lee and Jacqui Swanson of Cross Plains, Wisconsin.

“I love the outdoors. I love the conservation work that this outfit does. I can’t tell you how honored I am,” said a surprised and emotional Lee Swanson during RMEF’s Elk Camp in Park City, Utah. “This is such a great organization. I love it. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the time I’ve spent. I can’t thank you all enough!”

“Lee and Jacqui’s leadership, dedication and contributions will have a longstanding impact on our mission as well the future of elk in Wisconsin and around the nation,” said Fred Lekse, chairman of the RMEF Board of Directors. “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is forever grateful for their contributions.”  

Lee first learned about RMEF at the age of 63 during an Idaho elk hunt. Upon returning home to Wisconsin, he and Jacqui attended a RMEF banquet and Lee became a life member shortly thereafter.

The Swansons stepped up to donate their time, talents and resources to the organization. In 2008, Lee joined the RMEF Board of Director’s Finance Committee and went on to serve seven years on the board including a term as chairman.

At a time when Wisconsin looked to expand its elk herd, Lee accepted a request to serve as the chairman of Wisconsin’s Housing and Economic Development Committee. Due to his persistence and armed with additional financial support from RMEF, the governor included elk restoration authority into the budget and more elk eventually hit the ground.

The presentation marks just the 23rd time the award has been conferred over RMEF’s 35-year history.

Wallace Fennell Pate, RMEF’s first president and chairman of the board, dedicated his time, energy and financial resources for the betterment of wildlife in North America. Now deceased, Pate became a national role model for groups or individuals focused on natural resources conservation.