Whitetails Unlimited’ s national headquarters is unusually busy this week, as the entire corps of field directors gather in Wisconsin for their annual field operations meeting.
” It’ s great to get together with all our field directors from across the country, so we can stay on the cutting edge of the conservation industry,” said Michigan Field Director Jason Maraskine. ” It’ s a great way to stay current with fresh ideas, for both our events and for projects for our local chapters.”
Tim Powers, field director in eastern Iowa, agrees. ” Getting caught up on everything in the office is very beneficial, but the information exchange between all the field directors from across the country is unique. We talk about new approaches for banquets, innovative conservation or educational projects that chapters may be interested in pursuing, and information on new fundraising concepts.”
Whitetails Unlimited field directors live in 10 states, and conduct banquets and events in more than 25 states, from Maine to Florida, through Texas and Louisiana, up to the Dakotas. They work independently, but gather at national headquarters each June for training, evaluation, sharing ideas, and working on a collaborative ‘ game plan’ for the next fiscal year.
” We talk about what worked well in the last fiscal year, and what’ s not working, or becoming stale,” said Illinois Field Director Darel Martin. ” We evaluate new merchandise for events, what’ s popular, what’ s getting old, and talk about new trips or concepts we can add to keep our banquets fun, exciting and interesting for our members. We understand that with the economy as it is that people are being careful with their entertainment and charity dollars, and we’ re thinking outside the box to offer exciting new things at events this year to provide the most value possible for our attendees.”
Missouri Field Director Dan Vogt said it’ s fun to get reacquainted with staff members that he talks to every week (sometimes every day). ” It’ s useful to talk face-to-face,” said Vogt, adding that it’ s important to gather information on new conservation projects that are working in different parts of the country. ” Sometimes you can take the core of a project that is working well in a different part of the country, and adapt it and have it work in our neck of the woods.”
One important task at the June meeting is the selection of merchandise items that will be featured at banquets as the next fiscal year’ s WTU National Merchandise Package. Vendors submit samples for consideration, and a committee of field directors work with Merchandise Manager Eric Carper to select the items that will be featured. It’ s an all-day task, with more than 350 items submitted by manufacturers, supplemented by merchandise that field directors have found in their local areas, and additional items suggested by WTU staff.
” Every year we try to come up with new products and branded items,” said Vogt. ” Some things stay the same because they are very popular, and some items are similar to what we’ ve had in the past, but are improved in some way. This year we’ ve gone in a different direction with some items, and we’ re pretty excited that we’ ve got a great package for next fiscal year.”
The task for negotiating price, scheduling, and delivery falls to Carper, and the field directors work at the meeting on a ‘ game plan’ on how to incorporate the merchandise into a successful event.
Staff lunches provide an informal venue for field directors and headquarters staff to catch up with each other, and meeting breaks find individual field directors talking with various staff to get individual chores finished. It’ s a very busy week.
” The summer meeting is always a great time to get reacquainted with everybody that supports us in the field,” said Powers.
Photo caption (for photo slugged FD2011M eet454a.jpg): Whitetails Unlimited Wisconsin Field Director LeRoy Schultz (left) evaluates merchandise for next year’ s WTU National Package. More than 350 items were evaluated during the selection process Tuesday, June 14, at WTU national headquarters in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. At right are New York Field Director John Hunter, and Iowa/Nebraska Field Director Larry Yost. (Photo courtesy Whitetails Unlimited.)
Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national nonprofit conservation organization. Our mission is to raise funds in support of education, habitat enhancement and acquisition, and the preservation of the hunting tradition for the benefit of the white- tailed deer and other wildlife. When it comes to the whitetail and its environment, WTU’ s degree of professionalism and dedication has earned us the reputation of being the nation’ s premier whitetail organization.
Pete Gerl, Whitetails Unlimited executive
director: (920) 743-6777, ext. 105