As the balloons fell to the convention floor below, volunteers for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation celebrated. Moments earlier, President and CEO David Allen announced “the volunteer” as the recipient of RMEF’s most prestigious honor—the Wallace Pate Award. More than a dozen volunteers from Tennessee, the Volunteer State and host of the convention, accepted the award in behalf of all 11,000+ RMEF volunteers.
Throughout the evening, RMEF recognized individuals and chapters for their commitment, fundraising abilities and their passion for and dedication to elk and elk country. Greg Matchett, Joyce Cooper, Duane Acker and Ron Poole each received the Chairman’s Award (below). RMEF’s first-ever chartered chapter, the Flagstaff Chapter, joined the Hattiesburg Chapter, which persevered despite a destructive tornado, as recipients of the RMEF Honors.
Flagstaff RMEF Honors
Hattiesburg RMEF Honors
In addition to a number of hunting gear giveaways, a Volunteer Fun Night staple returned in the form of the always-popular “Heads or Tails.” The elimination game ended up with one lucky RMEF member returning home with a cash prize and a big game hunting rifle.
Country music performing artist Joe Nichols capped off the night’s festivities with a concert that rocked deep into the night.
The day began with an intimate breakfast gathering. RMEF co-founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker hearkened back to the organization’s early days and recognized a number of dedicated individuals who helped the fledgling organization thrive and succeed.
At the semi-annual meeting of the Habitat Council, Cyndie and Kent Johnson succeeded Charlie and Yvonne Decker and Bob and Vicki Munson as co-chairs. In addition to conducting the usual business, Kent Johnson announced the Habitat Council now has more than 1,000 members. Outgoing chairman of the RMEF board Chuck Roady and David Allen presented an informal “State of the RMEF” followed by a Q & A session. Allen also lauded Roady for his dedication and hard work that covered eight years of volunteer service as a committee member, board member and chairman.
“Chuck bleeds for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Given the political climate and issues that affect our mission, it’s been more important than ever to get into the government affairs arena. Our timing couldn’t be better to be under Chuck’s watch. He’s very good at it. It will be his legacy—government arena and policy,” said Allen.
At Allen’s request and following the Habitat Council meeting, Shane Mahoney and Randy Newberg took to the podium to address the future of the hunting culture. They spoke of the importance of valuing the animal and the hunting experience as a whole, offering education to the hunting community and society alike about the importance of wildlife management, and urging RMEF members to stand tall, get educated on the issues and raise a voice for hunting and conservation.
“The game is changing. You cannot score the winning touchdown if you’re sitting in the bleachers. RMEF is in the perfect position to step forward and do something about it. No group is in better position than us go move the forward and score touchdowns. And I’m not interested in field goals which don’t win football games. Touchdowns win games,” said Newberg.