By Joyce Cooper, Great Smoky Mountain Chapter Co-Chair
Great Smoky Mountains Chapter welcomes 33 new youth members
The smiling faces in this photo belong to 33 of the newest youth members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The Great Smoky Mountains Chapter recently held their annual fundraising Big Game Banquet at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort’s Event Center with approximately 350 people in attendance. Chapter members Joe Treadway and Terry Shuler underwrote the cost of the youth memberships for all youth in attendance, and the committee awarded honorary committee memberships and caps. These 33 boys and girls now have stronger ties to North Carolina elk and elk country. For several years, many of them have volunteered for duties setting up for the banquet and during the banquet. There were seven life members in the group.
This was the third year that the chapter has provided memberships to the banquet youth. In 2014, during a committee meeting, the discussion turned to the newly available RMEF Youth Memberships. GSM Chapter volunteers Ray and Ramona Bryson proposed that the chapter award a youth membership to all youth in attendance at the banquet. When the committee approved that motion, the Brysons generously volunteered to donate funds to cover the cost. The 25 youth in attendance at the banquet that first year were brought on stage, presented RMEF bandanas and caps and certificates of honorary committee membership. In 2015, Joyce Cooper provided funding for 25 youth attendees.
Hopefully these youth will enjoy their years as Youth Members and will continue their membership by joining the GSM Chapter as adults. Chris Croy, RMEF Regional Director, and Joyce Cooper, GSM Chapter co-chair, expressed appreciation to all banquet attendees and donors, but especially to the parents and youth, for supporting the event.
A resident of Cherokee, North Carolina, Joyce Cooper is a longtime RMEF volunteer and co-chair of the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter. She is also a Great Smoky Mountains National Park volunteer, where she works closely with biologists to education the public about elk.