By Danielle Sturgis | November 11 2009 10:13

Thanks to Amber Niblock-Shorter for sharing the following with NRAblog:

Seventeen years ago, Southern Regional Director Al Hammond was the Florida Field Representative in charge of starting the Florida Friends of NRA program. To help him create awareness about the new program, he enlisted one man’s help as a volunteer – Bud Fisher. With a keen knowledge of the state of Florida and Fisher’s help, Hammond built the program from the ground up and made it into what it is today. Florida is the second highest fund raising state in the Southern Region and ranks in the top ten nationally in terms of the number of banquets held per year.

Hammond relied on Fisher’s leadership background in the United State’s Navy and his strong commitment to the principles of the NRA to help him lead and guide volunteers in starting new Friends of NRA programs all across the state. As a Navy pilot, Fisher was stationed in several places across the world, from Iceland to Italy, before becoming a Primary Flight Instructor in Pensacola, Fla. In 1975, he retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander and possessed all the skills needed to aid Hammond.  

As a key factor in the success of Florida and surrounding states, Hammond would describe Fisher as the man behind the scenes who knows the Friends of NRA program from A to Z. For 15 years, Fisher traveled many times with Hammond to committee meetings all over Florida, Alabama, and Southern Georgia to offer a different perspective as a volunteer. Fisher still plays a pivotal role in training new volunteers for committees and State Fund Committees. “He has helped [North Florida Field Representative] Trip Lancaster the same way he has helped me,” Hammond said. “Many committees today continue to ask Bud questions and rely on Bud’s expertise. Volunteers respect him for what he has done over the years and he shows the same amount of respect for their commitment.” Lancaster adds, “He has been instrumental in helping me get off to a fast start. I rely on his advice and insight as well as dealing not only with events, but the dynamics of the committees and volunteers. I talk to him almost daily and consider him a great friend to me.”

As well as training new volunteers, Fisher also volunteers his time at events, helping in set-up and working the night of the event. Hammond remembers how they used to be in such a routine they would not talk for hours during set-up because they knew what the other was going to do. “We’ve always clicked and developed a great friendship,” Hammond added. “His heart is in this program and he is very passionate about it. I owe a tremendous amount of my success to him because of all of his hard-work, the time he’s committed to NRA, and most of all his friendship.”

Fisher has worked with hundreds of volunteers and has participated and volunteered at over 300 banquets in the past two decades. He has also attended numerous State Fund Committee meetings and volunteered at over half a dozen Annual Meetings. Today, Fisher focuses most of his efforts on the Suwannee River Friends of NRA committee in Trenton, Fla., the First Coast Friends of NRA in Jacksonville, Fla., and still remains involved with the first-ever Florida committee, the North Florida Friends of NRA in Gainesville, Fla.

Volunteer for an upcoming Friends of NRA banquet in Florida! Contact NRA Field Representative Trip Lancaster at (352) 463-8379 or via email at hlancaster@nrahq.org for more information.

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