Montana State Newsletters Keep Local Members in the Loop
By Wapiti Wire Staff
Montana RMEF members receive state-specific updates multiple times a year via two different newsletters: the print Montana Elk Country Legacy
and the digital Montana Bull Sheet
. Both newsletters are created by volunteers, with assistance from RMEF staff.
While RMEF outlets including Bugle
, social media channels, and others are great ways to provide information, the statewide newsletters offer a chance to tell more location-specific stories, ones there might not be room for in Bugle or that might not affect readers in other states, says Jared Wold, RMEF Regional Director for Western Montana and Northern Idaho.
The Montana Elk Country Legacy
is an annual printed newsletter which is mailed to all RMEF members in Montana—upwards of 16,000 copies. “The Legacy
is a way to get more Montana-specific information—land protection, habitat projects, and volunteer work projects—out to
our people,” says Jared Wold. It serves as a year-end recap, and it also highlights state grants and chapter events like veterans’ hunts and youth education days—important ones that the public might not always see, he says.
The Montana Elk Country Legacy
is spearheaded by the Montana State Resource Team. Volunteers are responsible for building content—tracking down stories from chapters, regional directors, and press releases from Headquarters, Jared Wold says. Then the material is sent to a graphic designer, who puts the newsletter together. Afterward, it’s up to the volunteers to proof and mail the final edition.
First Interstate Bank is a state-wide sponsor for the newsletter, and their donations cover production costs. In return, First Interstate Bank receives a full-page advertisement in the Legacy, a smaller ad in the Montana Bull Sheet
and their banner hung at all RMEF events in Montana. The Montana Bull Sheet
is the Legacy’s digital younger brother, delivered to members’ email boxes at least three times a year. “The Bull Sheet
is basically a volunteer newsletter that we send out to our RMEF Montana members,” says volunteer editor Kim Wold. “That’s evolved over time.”
It originated as a volunteer-only, print newsletter, but it made the jump to digital in 2011, the same year that volunteer
Kim Wold, Jared’s mother, joined the state resource team and took charge of the Bull Sheet. The team decided to send the Montana Bull Sheet to all RMEF Montana members, not just active volunteers, at the same time.
The swap to digital made the process of creating the newsletter much simpler, says Jared Wold, eradicating the space restrictions imposed by a print publication. Because of printing costs, the old newsletter could only run limited content, Jared Wold says, but switching to digital meant the newsletter could be as small or as large as the team wanted.
“We, as a state resource team, had to reevaluate the cost we had for printing in paper
, so we moved to send that electronically,” says Kim Wold. Previously, when the letter was printed, it was always white paper, black ink, and no photos to keep printing costs down, she says. But now, the newsletter utilizes color and numerous photos.
Each issue of the Montana Bull Sheet
features a profile of different state resource team member, a department called “Montana SRT Spotlight.” The newsletter also has a directory page with the names and contact information of Montana RMEF staff and leading volunteers, along with a variety of other articles.
, Kim Wold tracks down the stories, designs and proofs the newsletter. Then the Bull Sheet goes through another round of editing and proofing by other state resource team members and RMEF Headquarters staff.
The Montana State Resource Team is set to discuss the mechanics of the Montana Bull Sheet this winter, along with potential redesigns that would better utilize social media and other technology to get information out to Montana members faster. “I think we always have to be evolving to be in the present, to get that information out and stay connected,” says Kim Wold. “That’s why we do the Bull Sheet
, to stay connected. It’s a link for all of us across the state. Montana is huge, and our members are everywhere. Every so often, we need to address how we can be at the forefront.”
Each newsletter has its own unique value. The Montana Elk Country Legacy
helps inspire members to give back. “It always seems like people want to know what the RMEF is doing. We use that newsletter to keep them informed,” Jared Wold says. When members can see what’s been done in their home state over the past year, they might end up coming to a banquet and giving a little extra back to the cause—“to refill the hopper, so we can go out and do more projects in the future,” he says. Meanwhile, the Bull Sheet
is a convenient way to keep members and volunteers in the loop on happenings throughout the year. “It keeps us connected to our state membership and keeps them updated on what’s happening locally,” Kim Wold says.
Jared Wold’s advice to other states looking to tackle a newsletter is to make sure they’re ready for the commitment. “It takes discipline to do it,” he says. “It’s one of those things that is really easy to put on the backburner. If you’re going to do it, you have to stand your ground and make it a priority.”