Elk NetworkFull Circle: A Kansas Volunteer Story

Volunteer News | January 17, 2022

John Nelson joined the RMEF after attended the first Tri-Rivers Chapter banquet in Salina, Kansas, in 1994.  A few years later, after engaging with the committee through various activities and work projects, he decided to take a more active role in the chapter as a committee member. Nelson was asked to become the ticket chair for the Tri-Rivers Chapter and has remained in that position ever since. His wife, Paula, joined him at the door and they enjoy the work because of the opportunity to meet and become friends with many members through the sales. That’s a lot of new friends when the chapter has grown to nearly 350 attending members!

Nelson became a sponsor in 2002, a Life Member in 2004, a Habitat Partner in 2014 and in 2019, a Habitat Council Member. But the Nelson family ties to RMEF don’t stop there, he and Paula are also Trails Society Members and have signed up their son, one granddaughter and two grandsons (one was 5 1/2 months old) as Life Members. “My wife and I really enjoy the banquets and we have between 20 and 25 family members present every year,” says Nelson.  “That’s the biggest thing I like about the RMEF and our banquets. They are very family oriented.”

In 2018, Kansas held their rendezvous on Fort Riley (where the wild elk herd of Kansas roams) and Nelson volunteered to tear out some old fence.  “I had the pleasure of working with eight other people in the rain and not one man complained,” he remembers. “It was a short work day as we got all the fence out quicker than was anticipated.  I look forward to more work out there.”

In 2019 Nelson was notified that he’s drawn a bull elk tag on Fort Riley where he’d improved habitat just a year before.  “I don’t know how many years I’d applied, but I’m sure it was between 15 and 20.”  After days of scouting and hunting, Nelson finally connected with a nice 5 x 5.  “I’ve hunted different western states for elk with no success and I finally got one close to my back door with my son’s help.  He had also happened to draw a cow tag and I was with him when he got his elk.  A very exciting experience, and by the way, Fort Riley is not an easy hunt!” Nelson laughs.

Like RMEF’s other committed volunteers, Nelson continues to make the world a better place for elk.