Sometime in the late 1990s I attended my first Rocky Mountain Elk fundraising dinner. My friend, Joe Mangelos had conned me into attending and I’m sure glad he did. That night I bought $20 worth of raffle tickets and I’ll be darned if I didn’t win a brand new 30-06 rifle! I have been hooked ever since. I often take friends or family members along with me and we all have a great time. There are even activities and special prizes for kids. While everyone attending has a great time, the point of the whole evening is to raise money for wildlife.
It’s interesting how many species are helped through such conservation activities. Along I-5 between Lodi and Sacramento lies a large wildlife preserve that is home to countless herons, cranes, storks, ducks, geese and other critters. Anyone from the public can visit there and enjoy the sounds and sights of thousands of waterfall. Who paid part of the bill for this preserve? The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, that’s who. Preserving and improving habitat for elk, helps lots of other species as well. There are dozens of great conservation groups that are dedicated to improving our wildlife and natural habitat for all of us to enjoy. The Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy and Tuolumne Trust are all great groups and I’ve worked with and donated to all of them over the years.
These conservation groups build water guzzlers in desert areas to catch and hold water so that bunnies, and desert sheep and desert tortoises can survive a harsh environment. They buy land threatened by development to keep deer and elk migration routes intact. They plant tens of thousands of trees and shrubs to revegetate the forests after devastating wildfires. Governments at all levels never seem to have enough money to do the jobs they’re assigned to do. Thank goodness for the non-profits like the Elk Foundation.
For some reason, one of my favorite conservation groups is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. I suppose it’s ironic, but I’ve never been elk hunting. I’ve enjoyed watching elk for years though, there’s something about seeing a majestic wild animal with huge antlers that delights my soul. I’ve had such a great time at the elk dinners over the years that I finally had to volunteer to work on helping to organize the annual event. There are countless details to deal with, hall rental, insurance, finding a caterer, obtaining donations for raffle prizes, etc. You meet a lot of really great folks and eventually you hope to put together a great evening of food, fun and fund raising. In the end, everyone benefits: the habitat, the fish and birds and mammals, and even we people who love them.
If you’ve never been to such an event I heartily recommend it. Tickets to such an event will usually cost between $50 and $75 per person and then once you arrive you can buy drink tickets for alcoholic beverages and raffle tickets in hopes of winning one of a host of really super prizes I return year after year in hopes of winning more cool prizes.
Dinner is almost always steak or chicken, accompanied by all the usual trimmings. You’re not there to lose weight, so relax, enjoy yourself, and return to your diet the following day. There are almost always numerous attractive women selling raffle tickets. Somehow they seem to sell more tickets than a bunch of ugly guys. Don’t get the impression that these dinners are some kind of wild stag party, because nothing could be further from the truth. The dinners are truly a family oriented event. You’ll see husbands and wives, as well as boys and girls too. Most years, I take my son, daughters, or sons-in-law along to join in the festivities.
This year the Central Valley group of the Elk Foundation is all excited because we think we’ll pass the one million dollar mark in raising money to improve the habitat for God’s critters. Mark your calendar. This years Rocky Mountain Elk Dinner will be on Friday March 11 at the Ripon Community Center. You can come to the dinner with your spouse, your children and your friends. You’ have a great meal, a great time and might even win some cool raffle prizes. Most importantly, you’ll have a great feeling inside that in some small way; you’re helping to make this world a better place for the wildlife and your children & grandchildren. I’ll see you there!
Until Next Week,