Grand Junction president receives Elk Foundation’s highest honor in Reno
This time, the boss finally gets his reward.
Terry Sweet, for the past 22 years president of the Grand Junction chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, recently was awarded the Elk Foundation’s highest honor, the Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award.
The award, a bronze sculpture, is given in recognition of special contributions benefitting elk, other wildlife and their habitat across North America.
It was presented to Sweet on March 6 during the Elk Foundation’s annual banquet in Reno.
“It is an absolute honor,” said Sweet, who has led the Grand Junction chapter to being one of the most-active and respected chapters among the more than 550 chapters nationwide in the foundation.
“I’m incredibly humbled to receive this award,” he said, “But really it’s more than the award, it’s the lasting friendships I’ve developed over the past 22 years.”
In that time, the Grand Junction chapter has raised more than $2.1 million for conservation.
In addition, the local chapter has led the nation in Elk Foundation fundraising and new supporting memberships for three of the past four years.
The Elk Foundation recently said this performance puts Grand Junction on a par with chapters in cities 40 times as large.
Also, this year’s award was the first time it has gone to an Elk Foundation volunteer not already on the board of directors or national committee.
“It was an awesome ceremony,” said Troy Sweet, Terry’s son and the Elk Foundation’s Senior Regional Director for western Colorado. “I don’t think those people who know my dad will be surprised. He’s worked hard at making the Grand Junction chapter one of the best in the nation.”
Terry Sweet shies away at such praise.
“I work with some really hard-working, dedicated and talented people on the banquet committee,” he said. “They all know their jobs and they do them so well the thing almost runs itself.”
The award is named for Wallace Fennell Pate, the Elk Foundation’s first president and chairman of the board, who dedicated his time, energy and financial resources, to the betterment of wildlife in North America.
In addition to the annual banquet, Sweet and his volunteer committee members labor countless hours on membership drives, special raffles, elk calling contests, competitive bird hunts and even barrel-racing and team-roping events.
How does Sweet manage to continue operating at such a high level after 22 years?
According to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation founding member Charlie Decker, Sweet is “an outstanding leader with an elk hunter’s work ethic.”
“Many members of the Grand Junction committee have served almost as long as Terry,” said Decker, who presented Sweet with his award. “I’m pretty sure they’d walk barefoot through a patch of prickly pear if he said that’s how to raise more money for elk country.
“And I guarantee you, he’d be right out front leading the way.”
This year’s banquet is scheduled for March 26 at Two Rivers Convention Center.
Sweet refers to his committee members as “extended family.”
“This award is something I can share with them, for they’ve done so much work to make this chapter a success,” Sweet said. “In fact, wait until this year’s banquet. It’s going to be another barn burner.”
Since it was founded in 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has protected and enhanced more than 5.9 million acres of elk and other wildlife habitat