by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator
We are all part of various social groups. Church groups, sports groups, hunting groups, family groups, party groups… you name it. The common factors of why we are part of these groups are time together and common interest. If you never spend time with the people of the group, you grow distant, lose interest, and disconnect. If you don’t share a common interest, well let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t join anyway, unless a significant other roped you in. Keeping these things in mind, how can we increase participation within cooperatives? The answer: keep them relational.
Sometimes the motivation for participation may be to see better deer, more pheasants, bigger turkeys, fewer coyotes, greener habitat, etc. But a lot of times, that motivation is not enough to keep people engaged. As a cooperative leader, you want to do all you can to create an environment where you get individuals who are active, driven, motivated, and equipped to participate and model sound wildlife management and harvest. Below are a few event ideas on how to incorporate relational events into your cooperative plan.
Family friendly events. Your significant other may spend a lot of time with the kids while you are out doing deer season prep, deer hunting, venison processing, shopping for hunting equipment, talking about deer hunting, dreaming about deer hunting, drinking beer with your deer buddies. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan! And I bet your significant other is too (they are with you after all)! But, how much more supportive would they be if there were events they could enjoy with you? As a cooperative leader, you have the ability to provide some quality relational opportunities to bring together cooperative members and their families. Get the wives talking to each other, kids playing together, and ramp up the deer talk. Everybody wins.
Non-hunting/habitat events. We know we can talk hunting day in and day out, but let’s be honest, you don’t need a habitat day, a management planning day, or a formal event to sit around and chew the cud. Sometimes just getting together for no good reason other than to be together is enough.
Create a tournament event. Clay shooting, bow golf, range day, archery competition, handgun competition, etc. Have some competitions kids can enjoy, have a woman’s category, and encourage everyone to bring their A game for some serious fun. Hone in on your hunting skills before season sets in, and have a great time doing it. The great thing about these ideas, they can also be used to recruit new members. They are fun, light hearted events that are void of an agenda. These types of events allow for people to get to know each other in a casual environment. Without relational investment, your cooperative is going to struggle.
Freebie tip: Get a couple women in the cooperative to help out with the planning. You are pretty much guaranteed to have better attendance and food. Am I right?
Questions on starting a cooperative? Or growing on what you have? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-346-6454.