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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Grand Junction Chapter: Thinking Out of the Box

Grand Junction volunteers assist with Brother
in Arms Veterans Hunt each fall
After another incredible year in 2012, RMEF’s Grand Junction Chapter became the second in history to raise a cumulative $3 million. That equals nearly 20,000 acres of elk habitat enhanced or protected through the dedication of a single chapter. So what’s their secret for success? 

“We’ve just got a great committee,” chapter chair Terry Sweet says. “They think out of the box all the time and they’re willing to try new things. They’re just totally amazing.” 

Grand Junction’s annual big game banquet is one of the most successful in the country, a feat that takes of a lot of planning and work. Several years ago committee members traveled to California to learn how to put on a huge gun raffle. They tweaked the methods they learned there, and reaped the rewards. In the last few years they’ve reached their goal of collecting $100,000 through the live auction, and they recently added corporate tables. 

But it takes more than a great banquet to net more than $300,000 each year as Grand Junction does. Chapter volunteers also run a golf tournament every summer, help put on the Professional Bull Riding tour when it comes through town, and sponsor and host a booth with the Great Elk Tour at the Country Music Jam. 

2013 Country Music Jam
While fundraising is the chapter’s primary goal, these volunteers get their hands dirty in the field, too. Pulling old fence to improve elk habitat is a popular pastime. Promoting our hunting heritage is important to the committee as well. In April, volunteers helped put on Outdoor Heritage Day, which shares opportunities for outdoor recreation with young people. Each year, committee members also co-sponsor at the Brothers in Arms hunt for veterans. 

2013 Country Music Jam
Even more remarkable is that many folks from the Grand Junction Chapter find time to volunteer for other organizations as well. “Even away from the RMEF probably 90 percent of the members volunteer doing other things,” chapter co-chair Art Graham says. 

The committee puts in a lot of work, but they spend time having fun together, too. “The committee runs as an extended family,” Graham says, adding that they are all friends who meet up for lunch and other social events. 

Though it may sound like it, the Grand Junction Chapter isn’t made up of super humans. Any chapter can reach their success, Sweet says. The key is communication and cooperation, and borrowing ideas from any chapter that has had success fundraising. “Go learn something new,” he suggests. “Change the banquets around.” 

Sweet recommends pairing up with a chapter of similar size to bounce ideas off each other. The Grand Junction Chapter works closely with its sister chapter in Tucson, Arizona. The two have a friendly rivalry going that keeps motivation high. 

In 2012, the Tucson Chapter set the all-time record for the most money raised in a single year at $412,000. Not to be outdone, Grand Junction hopes to become the number one fundraising chapter in the history of RMEF. If things go as planned, they just might meet that goal this year. 

--Alexander Deedy, Bugle Intern

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