One of the strengths of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is their over 11,000 volunteers throughout the country, including over 1,000 here in Montana.

Spokesman Mark Holyoak at the RMEF world headquarters in Missoula said this is National Volunteer Week.

"We're just sending a shout-out to all of our army of 11,000 volunteers," Holyoak said. "We recently had our national convention in Nashville, and during that time we awarded what we call our Wallace Fennell Pate wildlife conservation award to our 11,000 volunteers, The main thing they do is host chapter banquets across the nation, in fact. they're the fundraising arm of what we do, They raise the funds that we put back on the ground to enhance elk habitat. There are volunteer projects that they tackle like noxious weed pulls, fence pulls and other types of land management projects."

Holyoak said these individuals volunteer their time because they honor the principles upon which the foundation was built.

"They believe that we're making a difference out there," he said. "We have conserved over 7 million acres around the nation, not just in the west, but back east or wherever elk are found. We so appreciate all they do, and in fact, the banquet season will soon be getting underway here in Missoula and Hamilton, so we invite everyone to take part."

The Wallace Fennell Pate Award itself is currently on display at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation headquarters in Missoula, on Grant Creek Road.