By Don Blakely, Director of Field Operations—Division I
Years ago RMEF founder Bob Munson shared a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that goes like this:
Dare greatly. It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
When offered the role of leading the RMEF’s Eastern Division this summer I accepted without hesitation. This might seem funny, considering that back in 1992 I had no idea who or what the Elk Foundation was: I doubt I could have picked a raghorn bull out of a group of big mule deer. But the following year, I found myself volunteering for the Shawnee Chapter in southern Illinois, and by 1995 I was chapter chairman. A year later RMEF hired me as the Illinois/Indiana field director.
Outstanding individuals before me have dared greatly and built what I am about to lead. I sincerely hope that my efforts as Eastern Division director will complement what my predecessors have achieved, and take this division to the next level in 2009. Our nation is moving through uncertain financial times right now, but I believe we can achieve our goals regardless by containing banquet costs and operating expenses, developing unrestricted major gifts, restarting past chapters, starting new ones, recruiting more volunteers and opening the doors of the Pennsylvania Visitor Center to the public. Bold goals, but we can and will be hugely successful in our fundraising, mission delivery, brand recognition and membership growth if we take advantage of the opportunities that lie before us with the passion we hold for RMEF and its mission.
I am humbled and honored to hold this critical position during an important time in our history. I ask you all for your support and friendship in this endeavor. Together we can achieve great things! I am looking forward to working for and with all of you. Let’s “dare greatly” together for the benefit of elk, other wildlife and their habitat!