25 Years and Counting…
By Jennie Wright, Field Programs Coordinator
Before Friday March 6, I’d never been in a room with more talented, dedicated and hard-working individuals in all my life.
I’m talking about the folks on the stage and in the crowd at Volunteer Fun Night at Elk Camp. The energy in the room must have been contagious to everyone in Fort Worth, Texas, that evening.
This year’s Volunteer Fun Night celebrated 25 years of volunteering for the Elk Foundation. Charlie Decker and Bob Munson, founders of RMEF, were honored along with their wives Yvonne Decker and Vicki Munson for bringing their dream to reality 25 years ago, and for their hard work and passion for the mission ever since. Their vision brought us to where we are now—with the world’s best volunteers, the most passionate conservation spirit and the best events.
The star-studded crowd included the likes of NASCAR’s Richard Childress, Realtree’s Bill Jordan, San Francisco Giants first baseman Ryan Klesko and outdoor writer Jim Zumbo, among others. Their presentation of an RMEF life membership, commemorative rifle and a shoulder mount of the magnificent bull he shot while hunting with Zumbo last season to USMC Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Kueser of Garland, Texas, brought folks to their feet in raucous applause from the teary-eyed crowd. Kueser lost his legs while serving in Iraq. He endured 18 months of surgery and rehab at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He continues to serve the U.S. military, and remains an ardent and active hunter and conservationist.
Surprise presentations and awards were plentiful at Volunteer Fun Night, but the most important thing was that RMEF volunteers thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It is a night well deserved. When Larry Devin, chairman of the RMEF board of director’s membership and volunteer activities committee, and Denny Radocha, chairman of the regional chairs introduced our surprise entertainment, country music artist Sawyer Brown, the crowd exploded. It was the icing on the cake for the evening.
Throughout Elk Camp our hard-working volunteers made the 25th anniversary celebration an impressive success. With their help, our auctions grossed $1.1 million while new memberships, raffles, merchandise sales and public admission fees added another $400,000—money critical to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat.
Thank you, volunteers, for all you’ve done and continue to do for RMEF!