Kings County Friends of NRA's original committee

With Friends of NRA celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, the program is doing a lot to honor those who have become a part of its illustrious history. One such gesture is recognizing the “Founding Friends of NRA Committees.” Of the 191 committees created in Friends of NRA's inaugural year, only 76 remain. These founding committees were recently given a special plaque created by Legacy Quest Outdoors using reclaimed barn wood to recognize their legacy.

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Continuing with our highlights of this year's Region Volunteer of the Year award winners, we bring you the Eastern Region's Diane March.

Friends of NRA's Region Volunteers of the year are chosen by a select committee of senior NRA staff from the pool of Field Rep-selected Area Volunteers of the Year. These exceptional volunteers for Friends of NRA were invited to the NRA Annual Meeting as honored guests where they received special recognition at the National NRA Foundation Banquet.

Diane March is a resident of Wappinger Falls, NY, serving as co-chairman of the Mid Hudson Friends of NRA committee. Approaching its twenty year anniversary, the committee's inception in 1994 saw an impressive 432 attendees at its first banquet, raising over $12,000. Since then, there have been 9,964 attendees at their events who have helped raise a cumulative $1.18 million. Diane raised over $50,000 for the 2011 banquet season alone through tickets sold, sponsorships, underwriting, and donations.

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Friends of NRA Volunteer of the Year Gail Bussell

Next up on highlighting this year's Region Volunteer of the Year award winners is Gail Bussell from the Mid West Region.

Region Volunteers of the year are chosen by a select select committee of senior NRA staff from the pool of Area Volunteers of the Year - nominated by their Field Representatives. These exceptional volunteers for Friends of NRA were invited to the NRA Annual Meeting as honored guests where they received special recognition at the National NRA Foundation Banquet.

Gail Bussell, who lives in Oklahoma City, has eight years of service with the Heartland Friends of NRA committee and currently sits as chairwoman. Founded in 1996, the Heartland Friends of NRA committee started out with 178 attendees at their first banquet who raised nearly $6,000.

Her committee's banquets have grown considerably in the past 16 years, swelling to 550 attendees in 2011 and raising nearly $110,000 for the NRA Foundation. A total of 5,365 people have come out to their Friends of NRA events and the committee is closing in on half a million raised, sitting at $489,377.

Like the other Region Volunteers of the Year, Gail was chosen for her exceptional contributions to Friends of NRA. Last year Gail was a real trooper, attending 14 of the 26 banquets held in Oklahoma. She helped set up and work 10 of those banquets and solicited donations for six of them. Gail led her committee in getting sponsorships, tallying eight with Blaser - out of 95 available nationally - for $5,000 each.

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Friends of NRA Volunteer of the Year Brian Mrnak

Back in March, Friends of NRA announced the recipients of their Volunteer of the Year awards.

From the pool of Area Volunteers of the Year, who are nominated by their Field Representatives, Region Volunteers of the Year are chosen by a select committee of senior NRA staff. These exceptional volunteers were invited to the NRA Annual Meeting as honored guests where they received special recognition at the National NRA Foundation Banquet.

NRAblog is going to highlight the six Region Volunteer of the Year recipients starting with the Central Region's Brian Mrnak.

Hailing from Ashland, Wisconsin, Brian Mrnak is the current co-chairman and FFL of the the Chequamegon Bay Area Friends of NRA committee. Created in 2008, Brian was there from the start when the committee's first banquet had just 45 attendees and raised over $2,000. In just four short years, that number has grown quite a bit. The 2011 banquet season saw 129 friends of the NRA show up, raising over $32,000.

Brian does so much more for the Second Amendment than just help put on Friends of NRA banquets. Despite Ashland, Wisconin’s isolated location on the the shores of Lake Superior, Brian displays and runs raffles year-round at all gun shows within 50 miles. He also received his Range Technical Team Adviser training in 2009 and acts as the main contact for all the gun clubs in his area.

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Senior Event Services Coordinator Nicole McMahon joined a few members of NRA staff for a local Friends of NRA banquet last weekend — here's her report:

Culpeper Chairman Barry Ranney spreads his arms wide during the Arm Raffle game.
Chairman Barry Ranney spreads his arms wide during the Arm Raffle game.

Culpeper, Virginia - Anyone from the DC Metro area knows to allot twice the amount of time it should take to get anywhere during rush hour. A little more than an hour from NRA Headquarters, Nick Tsoucalas (National Manager of Finance & Operations) and I spent over two hours in traffic last Friday afternoon to get to the Culpeper Friends of NRA banquet. Frustrations melted away once we entered the Best Western banquet room and were greeted with the smiling, friendly faces of the Culpeper committee.

We saw Chairman Barry Ranney on the Arm Raffle, NRA Field Rep David Wells walking the room, a volunteer working the Wall of Guns, another volunteer selling blocks on the Grid Board game and a raffle girl who came all the way up from Atlanta, Georgia to work her magic on the crowd. It was only a little past 6:00 PM and the room was filled with excitement as attendees played the games and talked with one another about the firearm they hoped to win.

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Friends of NRA

Friends of NRA has named the recipients of their Friends of NRA Volunteer of the Year award for 2011.

While there are many great volunteers who help put on events throughout the year, each of these select volunteers has had an outstanding impact on Friends of NRA at both the local and regional levels.

NRA Field Representatives recommend Area Volunteers of the Year, evaluating them on banquet tickets sold, underwriting received, years of service and other criteria. Recipients are awarded a “2011 Friends of NRA Volunteer of the Year” jacket as well as special recognition from their Field Representative.

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Field Operations staff package up Friends of NRA banners on NRAblog

A few weeks ago, the Field Operations staff was working on quite the project in atrium of NRA headquarters. Watching from above, all we could see was that they unpacking and sorting a variety of banners into piles ... the task took up practically the entire atrium floor.

I asked Event Services Coordinator Amber Niblock Shorter for the scoop behind the production. She explained that they were sorting and repackaging the banners to go out to various Friends of NRA committees.

Each NRA Field Representative receives a Highest Attendance banner and a Highest Net banner that they award to the committees in their area that earns said title. Additionally, every committee that raised more then $25,000 at last year's banquet receives a High Caliber Club banner to show off at their next event. In 2011, 282 committees became members of the High Caliber Club!

With that many committees receiving awards all over the United States, the Field Operations staff had quite a lot of un-boxing, organizing, sorting and re-boxing for shipping ahead of them.

The 2012 season of Friends of NRA banquets starts this week, so keep your eyes out for these banners at your events this year. If your committee didn't earn one in 2011, then it's up to you to help support your Friends of NRA events so you'll have better luck next year.

Senior Event Services Coordinator Nicole McMahon wrote this great article for Traditions magazine on the North Carolina Youth Education Summit implementing Friends of NRA's Master Piece Puzzle fundraising program.

A Youth Summit Master Piece for the NRA

When it comes to piecing together Friends of NRA events, North Carolina’s field reps and volunteers are puzzle masters. North Carolina consistently ranks as one of the top fundraising states in the Friends of NRA nation, which allows its State Fund Committee to support a large number of grant requests year after year. It comes as no surprise that North Carolina’s field reps, and a select number of volunteers, can just as easily piece together a successful state Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.).

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Kyle's Story #3 from 2011 - Friends of NRA's successful first season

Matt and Jessie Duff - Hosts of the Friends of NRA television showLast year Friends of NRA took the plunge onto the small screen, debuting a television show of the same namesake on the Outdoor Channel.

Hosted by professional shooter Jessie Harrison and retired Major League Baseball player Matt Duff, the two traveled across the United States, exploring the ins and outs of the grassroots fund-raising program.

Friends of NRA banquets are quite the experience to see and no two across the country are the same as Matt and Jessie experienced. Headed up by a tireless NRA Field Representative who helps conduct the committee staff and volunteers, each banquet may have its own unique style and variation in the items which are auctioned off, but one common theme connects them all – support for NRA and the Second Amendment. 

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