Elk NetworkMinnesota Volunteers Enrich Outdoor Experiences for Youth

Volunteer News | May 20, 2022

It’s called the largest event of its kind anywhere in the world. Youth ranging from sixth grade to graduating high school seniors gathered from near and far from across the entire state of Minnesota – more than 6,500 of them representing 293 different schools. An estimated 21,000 people of all ages attended to participate and/or watch the nine-day event June 14-22, 2021, in Alexandria. What’s the big attraction? The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League’s Trapshooting Championships (see above photo).

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a longtime advocate of ensuring the future of hunting and outdoor-related activities like this one to benefit current generations and those to come. RMEF provided funding support for the championships dating back to 2013. But where does that funding come from? It is generated by RMEF volunteers who host banquets, membership drives and other events in Minnesota.

Three months later and 150 miles south of Alexandria, there was a more intimate gathering at the Nicollet Conservation Club on the shores of Swan Lake (see photo below). Nearly 200 youngsters and 85 adults, including a handful of dedicated RMEF volunteers, got together for the Minnesota Outdoor Youth Day, an opportunity for boys and girls to learn about and actively participate in canoeing, paddleboarding, hatchet throwing, paintball, archery, shotgun and .22 rifle shooting, slingshot shooting and a variety of hands-on conservation-related activities.

Funding raised by RMEF volunteers went toward the purchase of food, prizes, shells and other supplies. RMEF volunteers not only helped plan the event and packed gift bags for the young participants, but they also worked the trap range.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners have completed 226 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Minnesota with a combined value of more than $5.3 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 80,423 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 943 acres.

“A lot of mission work to bolster elk, elk habitat, hunting and conservation has taken place across the state for a lot of years thanks to our nearly 7,500 members and 19 RMEF chapters,” said Patrick McMullen, Minnesota regional director. “Our volunteers are so great. They just jump in and make things happen. We salute them for all they continue to do.”