A Salute to the Eastern Volunteer
By Dave Brucken, Regional Director for Indiana, Illinois, Ohio & Michigan
As regional director for three states without wild elk, I am often asked, “Why do you have chapters in Indiana (or Illinois or Ohio) when there are no elk there?” Or more to the point: why do people in states without a free-ranging elk population volunteer hundreds of hours of time to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat?
It is easy to understand why residents of the states with elk would want to support the efforts of the Elk Foundation. After all, many of them have the wonderful opportunity to travel from their door an hour or two to hunt elk, or observe them, or just revel in the beauty of the outdoors.
But what motivates the volunteers from states without elk to raise funds for wildlife in other states? Where does the passion come from?
It’s simple, really. RMEF volunteers are Americans first, Buckeyes, Hoosiers or Illini second, and have witnessed enough to want their children, and their children’s children, to be able to bask in the glory of a bull elk bugling at dawn, to be there when a herd of 100 sweeps through a valley, or to creep silently through the forest seeking the majestic 6x6 spotted earlier that morning—even if it’s in a state 1,000 miles away. They like knowing that elk and their wild neighbors have an unspoiled landscape to live in, without the threat of shopping malls or housing developments.
Hunters and nonhunters—but conservationists all—volunteers work tirelessly to help achieve the mission of this great organization. They are as integral to the goals and efforts of the RMEF as those of any state, and I couldn’t be more proud to serve them.