Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Monday, September 24, 2012

RMEF Receives Conservation Award at Historic Banquet

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently made history in Richmond, Kentucky. The setting was the first-ever Big Game Banquet held by the Eastern Kentucky University Student Chapter of the RMEF, the only such student chapter in the nation.

During the banquet, Wildlife Society students at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) presented the RMEF with the 2012 Pete Thompson Wildlife Conservation Award for efforts to restore elk in Kentucky. RMEF pledged more than $1.4 million toward the project in 1996. From the original seven elk released in eastern Kentucky in December of 1997 to an estimated herd size today of 12,000 strong–the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi River—the RMEF donated millions of dollars and countless hours of volunteer manpower to foster the success of Kentucky’s restoration program.

“It was an honor to receive this award on behalf of RMEF, but it is particularly gratifying to see these students’ hard work come to fruition with this banquet,” said Bill Carman, RMEF regional director. “I am really proud of them.”

The EKU student chapter, organized in 2011, is made up primarily of wildlife students who took a field trip last fall to the Hatfield Knob viewing tower in northeastern Tennessee.

“Many of these students had never seen a wild elk, and they were really excited to see a bull chasing cows, to hear a chorus of bugles, and to see a big mountaintop opening full of feeding elk,” said volunteer Sean Taylor. “They were really pumped! “

The chapter is already planning its next Big Game Banquet for June 15, 2013. Until then, members plan to help the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources with biological data collection during Kentucky’s elk hunt.

Hatfield Knob, Tennessee
 Dr. Pete Thompson taught at EKU for 30 years and is the faculty member instrumental in getting the Wildlife Society Student Chapter started. In recognition of his contributions, students in the chapter developed an annual award to honor his lifetime commitment to wildlife conservation in Kentucky. The Wildlife Society, founded in 1937, is an international, non-profit scientific and educational organization serving and representing wildlife professionals in all areas of wildlife conservation and resource management. Its goal is to promote excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education.

The EKU Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society was founded in 1975 and has been involved in wildlife and conservation issues in the Commonwealth since its inception.

“It is hoped the presentation of this award to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will show how much the students in Eastern Kentucky University’s Wildlife Society appreciate the Foundation’s efforts to ensure that hunters and outdoor enthusiasts in Kentucky will have the opportunity to experience the thrill of seeing and hearing elk today and in the future,” as stated in the award presentation.

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