Here is the first in a several part series that will examine conservation-based nonprofit organizations, their accomplishments, mission, and participant accessibility.
Hearing a bull elk call to his harem or aggressively assault any and all challengers within earshot is an experience that will burrow into your memory for life. The availability of this experience no longer requires a pilgrimage to the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains and you have, in large, the Rock Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) to thank.
Humbly beginning in Troy, Montana in 1984, the RMEF was the collective brainchild of four hunting buddies that shared the admiration for elk, elk hunting and the common goal of ensuring a future for, arguably, the grandest game animal in the lower 48.
With over 500 local chapters in 47 of these 50 United States, chances are you are closer to a serious group of elk hunting, wildlife supporting, conservationists than you originally thought. Joining these ranks requires, at the bare minimum, a $35 registration fee. The benefits you reap with this minor commitment include a one-year, six issues, subscription to “Bugle” magazine and access to a network of like-minded, action-oriented, outdoorsmen and women who truly value the active conservationist role we as hunters and fishers play in nature.
“Bugle,” the RMEF’s flagship publication, is a combination of reader submissions, staff written research, and outdoor industry professional editorials that will have you rereading and stockpiling each issue you receive for years to come. A particular section of the magazine that remains a constant favorite of subscribers is the season specific photo essay that showcases elk and the country where they reside in a remarkably intimate manner.
Though the magazine is a great perk on its own, the real reason for RMEF’s existence lies in its commitment to preserve the wild lands that elk call home. According to the RMEF 2014 annual report nearly 90% of funds raised are earmarked for program services which include permanent land protection, membership support, habitat and wildlife stewardship, hunting heritage programs, and elk restoration efforts. To further define the reach of elk fanatics, to date, the RMEF has had a role in preserving and/or enhancing more than 6.5 million acres of prime elk country from the east coast to the west coast and from the Canadian border to the states bordering Mexico.
Funding this movement is an arduous task, but therein lies a membership benefit and chance for participation that many nonprofits have tried to mimic or copy. Local chapters host fundraising banquets that are part carnival, part Sotheby’s auction, and part family holiday meal that will leave you with good memories, friends, and likely a lighter wallet. Chapter committees organize and execute an evening of games, information, recognition, food, and fundraising with the sole intent of raising money for elk country. These events make for a great evening for the whole family and whether you attend as a guest or committee member, puts you in the position of truly having a role in RMEF’s conservation efforts that have become so respected and well known.
Though primarily focused on elk, the impact of the land access and preservation projects the RMEF has completed, and continues to pursue, can be seen across the range of plants, animals, and outdoor activities that share elk country. This ripple effect is a common result across the majority of conservation efforts and nonprofit involvements within this country and further emphasizes the benefit and utility of organizations like RMEF.
If you would like more in-depth information about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or are interested in a membership check out their website. http://www.rmef.org/
Tune in next week for a look at archery’s preeminent promotional and record-keeping entity, the Pope & Young Club.