by Anna Mitterling, Michigan Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator
We all have busy schedules. Especially once you have kids (or so I hear). One thing I do know is that the leaders of cooperatives put a lot of their personal time and money into organizing a cooperative, and any cooperative functions that come up. Given all they have going on, and the time they sacrifice setting up a cooperative, we can all imagine and understand how disappointing it would be to do all the planning and grunt work for a cooperative meeting, to only have a few folks show up.
However, aside from supporting our cooperative leaders, what benefits are there to me, as a cooperative member, when I show up to a cooperative event? We benefit from the changes cooperatives have brought to our hunting, we ourselves hunt differently too, and we get cooperative updates from our leader. Why show up to a meeting?
Community. The biggest benefit to attending a cooperative meeting is spending time with your neighbors, and getting to know some new ones. Face time is lacking in our culture, and in a time where we need to band together as hunters more than ever before, seeing your neighbors and talking with them is essential. Another big benefit – food. I’ve never been to a cooperative meeting where there wasn’t at the very least, some awesome venison summer sausage, and typically there is some fabulous venison chili.
Conversation. Cooperative meetings are a great time to find out who is doing what habitat work on their property, who saw deer where, or who shot which deer when. This is a great time to talk about past season outcomes and the goals for the coming season. Another benefit is that these meetings can be used to provide some valuable feedback on how you feel the cooperative is affecting your hunting, and neighbor relationships.
Support. Cooperatives are designed to create mutually beneficial situations. As you build relationships with fellow members, you find areas you can help each other improve as hunters and land managers. If you need help with a habitat project, seek assistance from other members. Many cooperative meetings have wildlife biologists, conservation officers, and other great speakers. Take the opportunity to ask questions and learn more.
All this being said, if you would like to see something different come out of a cooperative meeting, let you cooperative leader know! They may be looking for some fresh ideas. Besides, it’s only a couple hours of our time – and it’s for a good cause. If you are a cooperative leader, feel free to contact me if you would like to brainstorm some ideas! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 517-346-6454.