Lake Country Chapter: Hanging with the Big Boys
By Kasey Rahn, Bugle Intern
You don’t have to be from the big city to make a big difference when it comes to conserving elk country. The RMEF’s Lake Country Chapter, based in Cumberland, Wisconsin—population 2,159—is proof of that. Founded in 2007, it has been the top chapter in Badger State every year since its founding.
Boyd Aarestad, one of the founders of the chapter and current co-chair, had attended other RMEF banquets in Wisconsin. But when regional director Lou George approached him nine years ago about helping to create a new chapter in Cumberland, Aarestad knew it would be a perfect fit.
The chapter got off to a late start, but once the committee got going, what they managed to accomplish was impressive. Not only were they the number one chapter in the state that first year, but they were also the top new chapter in the country.
“We started out strong, and we’ve been going strong ever since,” says chapter co-chair Mike Hoffman.
George says the chapter’s success stems from numbers, quality, commitment and distribution.
The chapter has a large committee of 24, drawing members from a number of small towns surrounding Cumberland, and its volunteers are top-notch. They’re all committed to the organization and its mission, George says. “They love to challenge themselves to be the best, to grow and do a better job each year.”
Peggy Lundmark first got involved with the chapter because of her husband Tim’s participation. The chapter needed extra volunteers to help at the first banquet, and she stepped up. Since then, she’s taken on more and more responsibility, and now serves as a co-chair along with Aarestad and Hoffman.
“We have fabulous donations,” Lundmark says of the banquet, describing everything from cabin-stay trips to turkeys from local companies. “We get shoulder mounts from taxidermists and money donations, gift cards from many local establishments such as gas stations and restaurants, and donations from jewelry stores,” she adds.
The banquet attracts many couples, Lundmark explains, so the committee strives to feature a range of quality items that appeal to women as well as men.
The Lake Country Chapter also volunteers at multiple local youth events every summer, hosting booths and giving demonstrations hoping to encourage participation in outdoor activities and help shape the next generation of conservationists.
Even with seemingly humble roots, that commitment and involvement by its committee members makes the Lake Country Chapter a powerful force.
“This little town can definitely compete with the big cities,” Aarestad says.