At the Mule Deer Foundation, we are not afraid to brag—we have some of the most outstanding volunteers anywhere! Every year, a few of these special people rise to the top with their efforts to support MDF’s mission. Normally, we would be able to honor them in person during the Volunteer Recognition Event at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo, but of course that couldn’t happen this year. Hopefully next year we can celebrate in person, until then, here are the Mule Deer Foundation’s 2020 Outstanding Volunteers—Thank you for all that you do!
Arizona Outstanding Volunteer—Tyler Ann Gebhart
Tyler Ann Gebhart is definitely a pivotal part of the growth of MDF in Arizona. She has been involved for over two years and this year saw the opportunity to expand our exposure and our membership base by helping with the Arizona MDF social media platforms. She has also worked on many conservation projects across the state and volunteered at nearly all the local fundraising events while being a full-time collegiate student athlete. This young lady played a large part of the online raffles and membership drives that kept us in touch with our followers and bridged the fundraising gaps while we were not able to have live events. Tyler has a bright future in the conservation industry and looks forward to continuing to be an advocate for the future of our young hunters, outdoorsmen and women. Thank you, Tyler, for your dedicated commitment to MDF and congratulations on being the Arizona Outstanding Volunteer!
California Outstanding Volunteer—Jack Ravazza
Jack Ravazza has been a very active and valuable committee member of the Livermore/Pleasanton Chapter for the past 13 years. Every year, he personally accounts for about 75 attendees to the chapter’s annual banquet. Jack has procured his employer, Peterson Cat, as a major banquet sponsor for most of his tenure on the committee and typically comes up with three or four Peterson sponsored tables at each year’s event. He also works his connections to get several donations for auction items on a regular basis. It is because of people like Jack that the Mule Deer Foundation can continue to complete our mission. He is very worthy of recognition as California’s Outstanding Volunteer and deserves our congratulations and our gratitude.
Montana Outstanding Volunteers—Dave and Tylene Cato
When it comes to dedicated volunteers in the state of Montana, none are more obvious than our Western Montana Chair Dave Cato and his wife Tylene. Dave—who is also our Chapter Chair for our successful Lewis & Clark Chapter out of Helena, MT—and Ty dedicate not only a tremendous amount of personal time and resources to their chapter each year but they’re always just a phone call away if their assistance is needed at another banquet event. They have traveled to events in Butte, Missoula and Great Falls, just to name a few, and their experience is priceless when it comes to assisting other chapters. Congratulations to Dave and Tylene Cato who are Montana’s Outstanding Volunteers!
Nevada Outstanding Volunteer—Dom Sandoval
Adrian Dominic Sandoval aka “Dom” has been a part of the MDF family since January 21, 2019 when he accepted the position of chapter chairman for the Southern Nevada chapter based in Pahrump. Dom hit the ground running holding his first event just a few weeks later and has not looked back since. Having completed a sold-out banquet and three Gun & Bownanzas, he has exceeded expectations and continues to make a name for himself at MDF with wildlife conservation and awareness for the state of Nevada being his main focus. Dom also took it upon himself to get certified thru NDOW as a hunter safety instructor so he could work with the youth and new hunters alike. Dom is well respected in his community and has assembled a solid team of volunteers to aide in his success. Congratulations Dom Sandoval for being named Nevada’s Outstanding Volunteer and representing MDF and the state with such pride and integrity.
New Mexico Outstanding Volunteer—Doug Chester
This past year presented new challenges and opportunities that allowed volunteers to step up bigger than before. The 2020 New Mexico Outstanding Volunteer award goes to TriCounty Chapter Chair Doug Chester. New to the Chair position, Doug was quick to go big or go home for the 2020 TriCounty Banquet and thanks to his dedication, tenacity, and commitment, it was the best banquet the chapter has had in its eight years of existence. His positive attitude and willingness to always help above and beyond has made Doug not only a valued chapter chair, but also a friend of conservation. Thank you, Doug, for your time, talents, and dedication to your chapter and to MDF.
Texas Outstanding Volunteers—Cassie Hunter and Earl Calhoun
Our Texas Outstanding Volunteers for 2020 are certainly a diverse pair! Cassie Hunter is a stay-at-home mom who is happiest when she and the family are fishing for bass at the nearby central Texas lakes. However, with winter and COVID she found herself able to use Facebook and Pay Pal to run 16 different gun raffles through the winter and spring. Meanwhile, Earl Calhoun is a member of an old Texas family that owns 14 sections of West Texas without any water on it. He donated two mule deer hunts through our Conservation Partnership program and, along with some chapter rewards and a team of Texas Parks and Wildlife Volunteers (aka the Alpine MDF Chapter!), there are now two 10,000 gallons holding tanks being fed by two giant rainwater catching aprons on his ranch. All wildlife will benefit from the efforts of these two fine people!
Utah Outstanding Volunteer—Robert Thornock
I am proud to announce Robert Thornock as our 2020 Outstanding Volunteer for Utah! Robert is a committee member for the Utah County Chapter and High Desert Leadership Team and has been a great help to us in being a lead coordinator and volunteer for multiple conservation projects. Robert always seems to get the tough projects that require hiking in miles with 100 pounds on his back to get the job done. We cannot thank him enough for all he does to help raise the money and see it all the way through to enhancing mule deer habitat. Robert is also a great husband and father and has pushed his wife, Misty, and children Kira, Nathan, Kylee, and Haydn to volunteer with MDF as well. Thanks for all you do Robert!
Wyoming Outstanding Volunteer—Jeff Webster
The Wyoming Outstanding Volunteer award goes to Jeff Webster with the Central Wyoming Chapter in Casper. This chapter had an entirely new committee as of 2019 and they truly stepped up to the plate in 2020, hosting two successful and safe large events amid the pandemic in July and November, including offering a remote participation option. To add to the challenge, the second event was hosted without any MDF staff due to the last minute COVID quarantine of the Wyoming Regional Director. The entire Central Wyoming Chapter rallied, and Jeff took a day off work and spent about 9 hours on the road to get the banquet trailer for the event with little notice. Congratulations to Jeff for going beyond the call of duty!
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.