by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC
This past weekend I had the honor of attending Fish Creek’s first official kick off meeting. They had a good turnout, and lots of good casual conversation. Ultimately, it was what a cooperative’s first meeting should be. Time to socialize and get to know your neighbors. Have a semi formal time where the cooperative leader introduces himself and any co leaders. The leader should explain what a cooperative is; a group of neighbors working to improve their hunting and habitat collaboratively. They should then seek questions, and views on hunting, populations, and interest in level of participation. Prior to this event though, a lot of work has to take place.
The first step to starting a cooperative is to make sure that there is even interest from your neighbors to start a cooperative. While you are chatting with some neighbors, you also want to see if there are a couple who are willing to help lead the cooperative with you.
I have seen some groups do this really well over the past couple years. These initial conversations can be very encouraging. “I thought I was the only one who felt this way and was this passionate, until the cooperative,” said Andy, a cooperative leader with County Line Cooperative. Andy found a couple other guys, along with their wives, and they are doing a great job promoting their cooperative and getting it up and running.
The second step is to contact me, the wildlife cooperative coordinator. My role is to help the leaders think through the different challenges and views they may deal with in their new cooperative. We talk about different ways to communicate goals so that other hunters are not offended, or easily put off. We work to strategize a growth and promotion plan, and help make sure that the initial reach of the cooperative makes sense, and there are people in place to assist in the growth.
The third step is to promote the cooperative and plan an initial kick off meeting. Send a letter out or have a brochure outlining your ideas to your neighbors. I can help with this area as well. There are of templates and examples from what other cooperatives have used. We can tweak them to meet the needs of your cooperative.
The great thing about these first couple steps is that it does not matter what kind of wildlife cooperative you are looking to start, the principles apply. The goals and details will vary, but relationships and connections need to be created and nurtured regardless.
What are you waiting for! Start contacting some neighbors, and then reach out and I can assist you! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org