Piecing Together Summer Fun for RMEF’s Habitat Council
The Habitat Council inspects some recent RMEF conservation work on an outing during the 2014 annual meeting. Council members come together each year from across the country to help generate ideas for future RMEF projects and conservation opportunities.
Putting together a successful Habitat Council summer retreat is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a big annual event that requires creativity, planning, exploration and negotiation.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Habitat Council
is sprinkled across America.
Elk Foundation members are invited to join the Habitat Council once they reach a philanthropic giving total of $10,000. Originally established in 1992, the Habitat Council works to raise funds with a goal of seizing more opportunities for RMEF’s mission.
Each summer, Council members gather in a different part of the country to see firsthand some of the organization’s important projects.
This meeting is also their chance to talk about timely conservation issues and challenges. They can take in the local scenery and attractions while discussing and networking with like-minded people. They get up to speed with RMEF’s on-going mission work and have the opportunity to attend a project tour to witness their investments at work.
Behind the scenes
While many different RMEF staffers have a hand in supporting the Council’s summer gatherings, a select few of us hit the ground to firm up the details.
Planning for the event usually begins about a year ahead of time.
We target areas of the country where RMEF has ongoing projects that are somewhat close to an airport hub so it is convenient to fly in and out. We make a site visit for four or five days to check out the pricing, packages and availability of various hotels. We also look into entertainment and restaurant options, all while working to keep things affordable.
Then, we attend the Council’s winter meeting, which takes place at Elk Camp, RMEF’s national convention, and present options for possible summer retreat locations. Council members vote on a location. Once it has been selected, we organize the travel, lodging, entertainment, meal and other requirements.
Council to tour Park City
The summer retreat is usually held the second week of June so as to not conflict with Memorial Day or Father’s Day weekend holidays. Recent retreats have included Knoxville, Phoenix, and Vancouver, Washington.
This summer the council meets June 11-13 in Park City, Utah. This ski town garnered the world’s attention in 2002 as the host of some events when the Olympic Winter Games were held in nearby Salt Lake City. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world toured the streets of this small town on the eastern side of the Wasatch Range in the Rocky Mountains to see ski and snowboard athletes compete there for Olympic Gold.
Some 130 years earlier, folks rushed to Park City seeking their own fortunes in the former silver mining town. Today, Park City is a unique blend of old and new, with 64 of its buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the summer Habitat Council event, attendees will visit High West Distillery and Saloon, which was originally a livery stable, to partake in some whiskey tasting. They will dine at the Grub Steak Restaurant and listen to personal experiences in the film industry and a learn more about the Sundance Film Festival, which is held there every January. The last evening will include a tour of the Utah Olympic Park which was the home of the 2002 Olympic events for Nordic jumping, bobsled, luge and the skeleton.
The highlight of the event will be a tour of the 7th Heaven Ranch—a perfect example of the importance of conservation easements in the midst of development. The group will explore how easements are made while learning about the significance they play for elk, other wildlife and the people whose lives are made richer by holding on to such open spaces in the great outdoors.
Planning is already underway for the 2016 summer retreat. Council members will visit the Ozark Mountains along the Missouri-Arkansas border.
Become a Habitat Council member
Recognition for RMEF’s accomplishments in wildlife habitat conservation and restoration is one of the many rewards of being a member of the Habitat Council. Meeting fellow dedicated conservationists—hard-working, big-hearted, family-oriented people from all walks of life—is among the others.
Council meetings are fun and educational. They provide a prime opportunity to talk one-on-one with the people who turn ideas into on-the-ground conservation action, including members of the RMEF board of directors and executive staff, as well as President and CEO David Allen.
Current Habitat Council co-chairs Howard and Nancy Holland lead this group of elk and hunting enthusiasts as they help forge the future of RMEF. Two of RMEF’s founders and their wives participate as well. Bob and Vicki Munson and Charlie and Yvonne Decker provide advice, knowledge and historical background—as well as a wealth of laughter and stories. They radiate great enthusiasm and passion for RMEF, which is a common factor among Council members.
“We are the investors of the RMEF,” says co-chair Nancy Holland. “We give thoughtfully with the intent of impacting the future, anticipating a goal will be achieved for elk country that will also pay dividends to the donor or to their heirs. Isn’t that what investing is? Habitat Council members want to ensure their children and grandchildren can see elk in the wild, access the land they hold dear and know the freedom we so cherish.”
The Habitat Council next meets at Elk Camp this December in Las Vegas. We hope to see you there!
RMEF Major Gifts Service Specialist