The Manitoba Wildlife Federation has been meeting with their affiliate clubs across the province to learn about wildlife population numbers, highlights and challenges over the past year.

MWF Managing Director, Carly Deacon, says they have hired a new staff member to engage more with their approximate 90 clubs and their 15,000 members.

Deacon says they're always looking for ways to help their clubs grow in numbers, and one of the best ways is through providing a variety of hands-on programs that teach more about the outdoors to current members, but also to bring new members into the group.

Recruitment is the biggest challenge for any non-profit and the MWF is no different. Deacon says volunteers, membership and recruitment remains a challenge even with the healthy number of 15,000. "Getting those folks to fill those roles to keep the clubs rolling is I feel a struggle across the board. It's always something that we have to put effort and time into."

The MWF certainly has the programs and initiatives to help their affiliate clubs with programming, as they work together in partnership. They offer the resources but often times it takes volunteers on the community level to implement those programs.

"The success of the clubs is the success of the Federation as a whole," she shares. "You know, our foundation is our clubs, and their success is our success. So, the membership growth and community engagement, and things that we can do to help the club do with their local community is going to help them grow. And that's essentially going to help us grow."

The MWF recently hired Dawn Scarfe as their Events and Membership Coordinator to strengthen that partnership between the MWF and their members.  With her infectious energy and eagerness to get to know the many clubs across the province, Scarfe has already proven to be a strong asset to both sides of this collaboration.

The Manitoba Wildlife Federation has 9 people on staff at their Winnipeg office, and Deacon says whether they have nine or 16 staff members they still don't have the capacity to deliver as many programs across the province as we would like to.

"Our outreach is to the extent of what we can do with staff here, but we have amazing volunteers and communities of clubs out there that can run these programs for us, but they might just need a little bit of help, and that's where the Federation can come in and be an assistant to that."

"We have the expertise, we have the resources, we have the insurance, and we have the gear," adds Deacon. "We literally have to connect with those clubs and say, 'Hey! Let us get you going on the right foot!  Let us help you run an angling, or a range program, or a mentored hunt!  And let that be a way that you engage with your local community going forward!'"

From experience, Deacon says there is an emotional connection to the person who mentors you in your first waterfowl hunt, or your first duck blind build, or your first mentored hunt for big game!

"Those are the experiences that you'll remember for a lifetime and the person who gives you that experience will go from stranger to a friend immediately!"

"So, I feel that programs are such an ice breaker for clubs to engage with their community and recruit new memberships and volunteers for those provisions to keep their clubs going and if MWF can assist in anyway in doing that, we'll do it!"