MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $18,205 in funding to Illinois for a series of hunting heritage and conservation education outreach projects.
“Much of this year’s funding for these projects is directly attributed to the late Bob Torstenson, an Illinois native,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “He had a passion for elk hunting, the outdoors and especially for introducing new hunters to hunting. These grants will extend and strengthen hunting traditions to the next generation in Illinois.”
RMEF established the Torstenson Family Endowment in Bob Torstenson’s name as a result of the sale of the Torstenson Wildlife Center, a 93,403 acre ranch in west-central New Mexico gifted to the RMEF by Torstenson in 2002. Torstenson owned Duo-FAST Corporation until its sale to Illinois Toolwork in 1998. Born in Evanston, he last lived in Pecatonica.
The 2014 grants will positively affect Cook, Fulton, Henry, Jackson, Mason, Sangamon and Tazewell Counties. There are also two projects of statewide interest.
Allen also thanked RMEF volunteers in Illinois and across the nation for raising funds through banquets, membership drives and other activities to further RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
RMEF grants will fund the following projects, listed by county:
Cook County—Provide funding from the Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) to assist Hubbard High School in the purchase of bows, arrows and targets from the Illinois Conservation Foundation as it establishes a Junior ROTC National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP).
Fulton County—Provide funding for youth to learn how to handle firearms in a fun and safe environment with the launching of the Fulton County 4-H Shooting Sports Program.
Henry County—Provide sponsorship of the Illowa Fellowship of Christian Athletes youth shotgun team.
Jackson County—Provide sponsorship of the Sesser-Valier Outdoorsmen Club 2014 Walden Solo Camping Experience which gives junior members a weekend of self-challenge and personal introspection through solo camping and participation in a high ropes challenge course.
Mason County—Provide funding to purchase ammunition for Mason County 4-H Shooting Sports which recently began offering air rifle, archery and shotgun instruction to youth ages 8-18 years.
Sangamon County—Provide funding and RMEF volunteer efforts to instruct and introduce school age youth with the Edgewood Scholastic Trap Team to shooting sports through the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation; and provide funding for NASP at Washington Middle School to educate archers about conservation, bowhunting, camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting and hiking.
Tazewell County—Provide funding for Tazewell County 4-H Shooting Sports which offers archery, air rifle, and shotgun courses to youth during a spring and fall session each year.
Statewide—Use TFE funding to design and furbish an education trailer containing fishing rods and reels, tents, a cook stove, microscopes, binoculars, GPS units for geocaching, a generator, lights, a TV for seminars, tanned hides, skulls and other items to be taken to schools and events statewide to help teach youth about the outdoors; and provide sponsorship of the 25th annual University of Illinois Forest Resource Center’s “Stewardship Week.” The event offers instruction to nearly 1,300 children about forestry, wildlife management, invasive plants and insects, natural heritage, fisheries, soil conservation, wetlands restoration, bird migration, tree identification and much more. RMEF sponsored the event the past 17 years.
RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.
In its first year in existence in 2013, the Torstenson Family Endowment provided nearly a million dollarsto accelerate mission priorities. TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.