Salt Lake City, Utah: During the recent Western Hunting & Conservation Expo, Mule Deer Foundation volunteers and chapters were recognized for their outstanding efforts for on-the-ground conservation and fundraising. The Expo provides the opportunity for volunteers, staff, board members, outdoor celebrities, and many others to celebrate the organization’s achievements accomplished by the chapters.
“MDF’s volunteers are the core of the organization and the WHCE allows us a chance to honor the leaders who are making a difference for mule deer on the ground,” Moretti said. “We always have a big group of our volunteer leaders from around the country who come to Salt Lake for the show and we are glad we can host them and thank them for their service.”
At Friday night’s Conservation Banquet, one top MDF volunteer was given well deserved public recognition for his dedication. During the dinner, Salt Lake Chapter member Jake Olsen received the MDF President’s Award for his tireless work coordinating urban deer translocation with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Jake has spent countless hours trapping deer in suburban areas with high deer densities and relocating them in areas where mule deer populations could use a little boost. Over the last three years, MDF has helped move over 500 deer from areas with increased damage and vehicle collisions.
“Jake is one of those special volunteers who gives so much of his time, he has taken the lead on our deer translocation efforts and there is no doubt that we could not have accomplished as much as we have without him. There is no one more deserving of the MDF President’s Award this year,” Moretti continued.
The volunteer focus continued Saturday morning during the Volunteer Recognition Event. Vester Wilson with the Big Sky Chapter in Billings was awarded the Ally of Youth Award for his work to ensure the future of our hunting traditions by getting kids more engaged in the outdoors. MDF Regional Directors also honored their most outstanding volunteers for 2016 including California’s Gene Avila, Colorado’s Joan Nestor, Montana’s Mark Clark, New Mexico’s Stacey Madson, North Dakota’s Arnold Karsky and Al Gunwall, Texas’ Demetrio Rubio, and Utah’s Shawn Elton.
MDF chapters combined for over 9,000 hours of volunteer service for conservation in 2016, a remarkable achievement that has paid dividends in mule deer country. Chapters are awarded “Bob Terry Sweat Equity” awards for the number of hours their volunteers worked. Altogether, nearly 30 chapters were honored for their service with 10 chapters recognized for putting in more than 250 hours of service. The North Valley Chapter from Arizona led the way with 1,850 hours of service, followed by the Utah County Chapter at 1,643 hours, and the Prairie Ghost Chapter from Sidney, Montana adding 1,171 hours.
In addition, chapters were recognized both for their fundraising efforts as well as their on-the-ground conservation work. The Humboldt Black-tail Chapter received the award for highest net for an existing chapter followed by the North Bay Black-tail Chapter, both chapters are in California. The Magic Valley Chapter in Twin Falls, Idaho won the award for the most efficient existing chapter and the runner up was the Treasure State Chapter in Butte, Montana. For new chapters, the Carlsbad New Mexico Chapter achieved the highest net and was the runner up for highest efficiency. The Bakken Roughnecks Chapter in North Dakota was the most efficient new chapter and were the runner up for highest net. Also recognized were the Wickenburg, Arizona “Beers for Deer” event, which had the highest efficiency for a second event, followed by the Plumas County Chapter from California.