MISSOULA, Montana -Over 10,000 volunteers for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation contributed $16.2 million in donated labor last year, and are on pace to exceed that amount in 2009.
The figures were released April 20 to coincide with National Volunteer Appreciation Week, which was created by President Nixon in 1974. Since then, every U.S. President has signed a proclamation celebrating America’s spirit of volunteerism for good causes.
“Sixteen-million dollars worth of donated labor would elevate some companies into the Fortune 500, but Elk Foundation volunteers aren’t motivated by corporate interests. They’re driven to help pass on a legacy of wildlife and wild places. It’s about keeping alive a great outdoor heritage. It’s about a quality of life that can’t be measured on Wall Street,” said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.
In 2008, RMEF volunteers coordinated over 750 fundraising events. Allen said these conservationists are likely to top that record in 2009, generating fuel for habitat enhancement and protection, conservation education and hunting heritage projects.
Since launching in 1984, the organization has funded over 6,100 different projects, impacting over 5.5 million acres and restoring elk herds to parts of their historic range.
In addition to fundraising, Elk Foundation volunteers eagerly get their hands dirty laboring in elk country. They assist wildlife and land managers by building guzzlers (wildlife watering devices), removing unneeded fencing and countless other jobs.
“The passion of our volunteers continues to amaze me. They inspire everyone around them to keep pushing, working hard, getting it done for elk country. We can never thank them enough,” said Allen.
RMEF calculated its total value of volunteer time based on conservative estimates of 10,000 volunteers at 80 hours each. The 2008 national average value for an hour of volunteer labor is $20.25 according to the nonprofit Independent Sector, using U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics plus estimates for saved employee benefits.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.5 million acres-a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.