By Joe Goergen
Last Saturday, the SCI Chapters of Wisconsin and Illinois met to discuss collaboration during these challenging times. In attendance was a strong group of dedicated SCI volunteer leaders from the Wisconsin, Badgerland, Northeast Wisconsin, Southeast Wisconsin Bowhunters and Illinois Chicago Chapters.
After a classic Friday night fish fry with the SCI regional representative and Wisconsin Chapter President, Charmaine Wargolet, the next morning we gathered at the office of Weldall Manufacturing where we were wowed by the amazing taxidermy of SCI Wisconsin Chapter Past President Dave Bahl.
The day’s agenda included a legislative report from the Wisconsin state affairs lobbyist, status of the state’s proposed wolf hunting season following the federal delisting announcement, SCI membership updates and an open discussion on innovative Chapter fundraising efforts. While everyone is struggling with most banquets being cancelled last year, some Chapters found success virtually and others are moving forward with in person events this spring or delaying until early summer.
The group heard from the Department of Natural Resource’s National Archery in the Schools Program, which is heavily supported by the Wisconsin Chapters and continuing its youth education work during the pandemic. The Chapters are also major sponsors of the Midwest Outdoor Heritage Education Expo that introduces more than 3,200 students and teachers to the shooting sports. It is one of the three largest free outdoor skills field trip events in America.
Being from Wisconsin myself, I was excited to travel home to Milwaukee and visit with fellow cheesehead hunters. This year I was lucky enough to harvest my first black bear in Eau Claire County, fish walleyes on the Wolf River and cheer on the Green Bay Packers from Washington, DC where I’m based in the SCIF office on Capitol Hill.
Representing the national SCI/F organization, I introduced our newly developed conservation focal areas including African leopard population surveys, CWD risk modeling and grizzly bear management issues. SCIF leadership is committed to these long-term conservation strategies and we hope to garner funding support from the Chapter base as we implement specific projects in Botswana, Missouri, Yukon, Wyoming and elsewhere.
Wisconsin is an important state for Safari Club with a lot of members, active Chapters and a high volume of traveling non-resident hunters. These Chapters recently donated a UTV to the state DNR’s CWD project, helped fund a wolf-elk predator-prey study, and are contributing to a black bear research endowment at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
SCI/F hopes to continue this close collaboration with all our Chapters and regions. We want to more effectively support local conservation and state advocacy while gaining support for our national level activity. The Chapter base represents 70% of the organization’s mission spending, so we need to share what your Chapters are doing and have the wildlife professionals and government affairs experts to support you. If your Chapter has a conservation project, fundraising idea or any communications content, please reach out to me or another SCI/F staff member to be featured.
Thanks for all your hard work and Go Pack Go!
Joe Goergen is the Conservation Manager for SCIF, Wisconsin hunter and cheesehead native. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, (202)-774-0440