Volunteers compete for the Golden Rolling Pin
By Daniel Mollet, Bugle Intern
For nearly 20 years, Montana volunteers have been coming together each summer to celebrate the work they’ve done for wildlife. This past June, 60 Elk Foundation volunteers convened for a weekend together at the 19th annual Montana Summer Volunteer Rendezvous at a 4-H campground in the Sweetgrass Hills northwest of Chester. The rendezvous has activities for the whole family, with a live auction for the kids and raffle for adults, plus a chance to win the coveted Golden Rolling Pin, a traveling trophy awarded for the best dish for Friday night’s wild game potluck. The winner this year was an elk stir fry made by Scott Racki.
Children can go on supervised nature hikes and work on art and crafts projects. This year, the older children took a fly-tying workshop and later fished for trout with the very same flies.
Jamie Freed, district chair and chair of this year’s host chapter, the Golden Triangle, headquartered in Cutbank, Montana, says even with all the recreational activities, the rendezvous isn’t all fun and games. Every year the volunteers take on a work project, oftentimes removing old fences or pulling noxious weeds, and occasionally more community-oriented projects. This year they built a shelter on the campground, using tools supplied by the volunteers.
“We have awesome volunteers,” says Freed. “They come prepared to work their butts off, and they do.”
To defray the camping fee, plus three meals on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday, the chapter charges each family $25. First Interstate Bank, whose contributions have supported the event and Montana volunteers for many years, once again helped make the rendezvous a huge success. Though volunteers from any state or province are welcome to attend, the Montana summer rendezvous draws most of its attendees from in-state. In previous years more than 150 people have come for a day of work and celebration. Freed chalks up this year’s smaller event to skyrocketing gas prices and a remote location. But despite the cost of travel, the summer rendezvous is a great way for volunteers to come together and celebrate their hard work for the mission of the Elk Foundation, not to mention a great way to spend a weekend under the Big Sky.