Rob Olson is no stranger to the outdoors community in these parts. For 12 years, he served as president of Delta Waterfowl. Earlier this year, he accepted the position of managing director of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF). He recently shared his thoughts on the new position.
Q: What attracted you to the MWF position?
A: The chance to make a difference in Manitoba where my family and I live. The federation has had many successes in the past 70 years. I've always thought the federation had such incredible potential to make a big difference for Manitoba hunters and anglers and in some ways, I think the best may be yet to come for this grand, old organization.
Q: Give us a snapshot of what's happened at MWF over the past decade. Has membership dropped? Why?
A: I don't think it's any secret that the MWF has gone through more than its fair share of challenges over the past few years. Membership has dipped in recent times, due in part to the turmoil that was too prevalent in recent years. Members have told us they were unsatisfied with the amount of communications they were receiving from the head office. The Federation ran deficits for the past few years and this has troubled members who are looking for transparent and successful financial management. And perhaps the biggest issue that has caused concerns with members is that the federation has not been public or tough enough in its representation of licenced hunters towards dealing with the current crises facing moose, elk and deer.
Q: What are your three goals for the MWF in the coming year?
A: Number one, deliver a balanced budget. We are well on way in this regard. The key to our success here is getting people to buy our Sportsmen's Raffle tickets, so please buy yours now, folks. Number two, reconnect to our members. The best thing about the MWF is its members -- a grand group of people who are the backbone of our organization. Our board has met with most of our clubs now and restarted regional meetings. Number three, we need to make this our year to stand up and be heard with a unified voice regarding the need to immediately begin to turn around the unacceptable declines we are seeing in our big game populations.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the MWF?
A: Being an effective entity in dealing with the complex aboriginal hunting issues that must be discussed, managed and dealt with as an essential component of recovering our moose and elk populations. Every reasonable non-aboriginal hunter I know supports the rights of aboriginal people, First Nations and Metis, to take fish and game for subsistence use. On the other hand, we need real leadership from government in creating effective boundaries and rules to manage subsistence rights, and the federation needs to demand this leadership publicly, or there won't be moose for anybody.
Q: Where would you like the MWF to be a year from now?
A: In a position where all of our members are proud of their MWF and see our organization as the group that is making sure there will be moose, elk, deer, fish and fowl for all Manitobans to enjoy, forever.
Shel Zolkewich writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she's not playing outside, travelling or eating. You can reach her with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org