Tucson Chapter: Driven to Leave a Legacy
By Samantha Abel, Bugle Intern
RMEF’s Tucson Chapter is all about shooting for the stars. This committee has an impressive list of fundraising honors under its belt, earning places in the top three spots for sponsor and life membership sales, major gifts, and banquet net and special event dollars year after year. In 2010, the chapter achieved the highest honor an RMEF chapter can—number one in total fundraising in a single year—by raising more than $350,000 for elk and wildlife habitat.
Ron Pittman, Arizona regional director, says the chapter is very goal-oriented and all the members are committed and dedicated to the RMEF. “They are overachievers,” he says. “Every time you turn around, they are doing something extra.”
The chapter broke up in 2001, but reformed in 2005 and has been burning brightly ever since. In 2008 and 2009, the chapter placed second out of more than 450 chapters in total chapter activity just behind their rivals, the Grand Junction Chapter of Colorado. But second place wasn’t good enough, and the chapter proved it in 2010.
“We have a great time with our friends from the Grand Junction Chapter,” says chapter co-chair Greg Matchett. “It is a fun rivalry and it is all for a good cause.”
Matchett said the chapter’s success comes from the volunteers’ dedication to RMEF and its mission, which is largely driven by the desire to leave a legacy of wildlife and hunting for future generations.
“I’m doing this for my granddaughters,” Matchett says. “I want to make sure they have a place to go hunting and fishing and to be outdoors.”
Fred Wiemann, a member of the Tucson Chapter since 2005, agrees. “I want to be able to see my sons and grandkids have the same opportunities we have now,” he says. “We volunteers all have a lot of love and passion for the Elk Foundation and what it stands for and it really makes a huge difference here.”
Wiemann says that conserving habitat is really important to Arizona’s volunteers. “Being able to do habitat upgrades, especially here with us being in such a drought for so long, is amazing.”
The Tucson Chapter has already accomplished big things in 2012. Besides continuing to look for new and different ways to encourage members and the public to support RMEF’s mission, they have already held a two-day 3D archery shoot, worked at the ISE Show in Phoenix, and attended PBR and NFR events. Matchett says that he can’t discuss the chapter’s remaining dozen ventures before year-end, because Grand Junction may be listening. All joking aside, the Tucson Chapter is poised for another impressive year of fundraising.
“Being 150 miles from elk, their dedication to the foundation amazes me,” Pittman says. “I always look forward to seeing what they are going to do next because they always surprise me.”