Sam Richardson and Steve Shining: 30 Years of Volunteering and Counting
By Noah Rott,
Sam Richardson (left) and Steve Shining receive plaques commemorating 30 years of volunteer service at the 2017 Spokane Chapter banquet.
Friends Sam Richardson and Steve Shining, both 72-years-young, are constantly on the move for elk country. The pair barely had time to pause at this year’s Spokane Chapter Big Game Banquet—even to accept their coveted 30 Year Volunteer Award plaques.
Shining, who is in charge of organizing chapter events, used his photography skills to capture the evening while also overseeing the auction. Meanwhile Richardson, who helps with event setup and display construction, handled the most popular auction item—“Sam’s Surprise,” a mystery critter that is only revealed after bidding. This year’s Labrador retriever puppy was a pretty sight compared to the pot-bellied pigs and Tennessee fainting goats of years past.
Whether they paused to celebrate or not, 30 years as an RMEF volunteer is no small feat. Bringing unique talents and personalities to their three decades of service, both Shining and Richardson have helped elevate the Spokane Chapter to one of RMEF’s most productive. The chapter reached the $1 million fundraising mark in 2013.
“Those two guys stand out. It takes a certain character to be a 30 year volunteer. They give time, effort and energy to get things done,” says RMEF Eastern Washington Regional Director Bill Kenney.
Shining and Richardson were both brought up near Spokane hunting with their fathers. Shining hunted deer and grouse, and he says there weren’t many elk in his hometown of Cusick until recently. Richardson, on the other hand, fell in love with hunting sheep. He has achieved Ovis’ World Slam, which means he has hunted 12 species of sheep across the globe.
They joined RMEF in the early days and were instantly hooked to the mission. Richardson began working with RMEF in 1987, and Shining took photos of the first RMEF Convention in Spokane in 1985.
“When I first heard how many of my dollars go to the ground, I was roped in,” Shining says. Their hard work has been a staple for the chapter ever since.
“The Elk Foundation has introduced me to like-minded people. The more you get out there in the world, you find a common ground is there,” Richardson says. Both go the extra mile to table at sporting goods stores to spread RMEF’s mission and to acquire donation items for auctions. The symbiotic relationship helps bring clientele into the businesses while bringing in new members to the foundation, they say.
Richardson is confident in this process—or as he puts it, “not afraid to walk into an office and sit down with the manager and talk them into donating.” Perhaps most effective is the pair’s booth at the Big Horn Show at the Spokane Fairgrounds every March following the February chapter banquet. They raffle guns, educate attendees, and bring in donators that might have missed earlier events. It’s a one-two punch during banquet season.
All that hard work they’ve done over the past thirty years is much appreciated. Shining got a lump in his throat when Bill Kenney awarded them plaques and special jeweled pins at the banquet in February.
“It gave us a very good feeling; it’s something we’re proud of,” Shining says. “I thought I’d go five years, ten maybe. That’s a long time to volunteer. Well, every year I keep going.”
Shining, ever humble, says that Richardson is the hardest worker in the chapter and was especially tough to wrangle to receive recognition during the banquet. Neither plan to quit anytime soon.
“I can rest when I’m dead,” says Richardson.