Elk NetworkBuilding New Mexico’s ‘A-Team’ of Volunteers

Volunteer News | November 19, 2021

I’d just finished attending my very first RMEF PAC meeting in the spring of 2011 and little did I know what lay ahead of me in my new role as the New Mexico state chair. Throughout the event, I witnessed the intricacies of allotting our RMEF funds to agencies and organizations, and I met a number of people from different agencies throughout New Mexico and learned what their roles were when it came to wildlife, habitat and habitat improvement.

During the breaks and lunch, I introduced myself and talked to these agencies, offering time and effort to their work. After making these offers, I needed to figure out a way to fulfill the promises I had just made. We had the agencies that needed volunteer help so that was one part solved, the other part was finding the volunteers. I contacted every chapter chair in the state and told them what I was up to and that I needed their help no matter how big or small. Everybody was ready to move forward.

I sent out mass communication asking if anybody knew of any type of habitat project or event we could attend to pass on what the RMEF was about. We could not just wait for these agencies to get their projects started, we needed to be proactive!

I received a call from former state chair Bob Nordstrom that summer, and he told me he’d met a rancher who would be interested in talking to me about a work project on his ranch in northcentral New Mexico. I reached out to the chapter chairs and was able to scrounge up enough volunteers to help remove barbed wire and old wooden posts. We ended up rolling 18 miles of barbed wire and didn’t count the posts. Needless to say, the rancher was thrilled by how fast we did the work and I told him that’s what you get when you call the A Team!

As we started conducting more work projects across the state, we did everything we could to get our projects posted on RMEF blogs or mentioned in articles in Bugle magazine. Our regional director began receiving more volunteers on work projects. When these volunteers joined our group, we offered to include them in their local chapter events to see if they would be willing to help out with organizing a banquet. We had great success with that method.

We’re fortunate to have created such strong relationships with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and private individuals. COVID-19 has really slowed things down the past year-and-a-half but the A-Team is poised and ready to go.

It is a great feeling to give back to the wildlife of New Mexico. We are always looking for more volunteers and I highly recommend if an “A-Team” is not in your state to go ahead and start one up with your local chapter and see what amazing changes you can do for wildlife in your area.

James Lucero serves as New Mexico’s state chair