Robin Vogen of Chatfield was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association in February.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Robin Vogen of Chatfield was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association in February. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Robin Vogen of Chatfield was surprised to be distinguished as a valuable volunteer with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association in February.

"I'm not even a member," she explained. "My husband is a lifetime member for 27 years and I just help out."

Robin explained that her husband, Jim, is the Region 12 director for Winona, Albert Lea, Waseca and Hayfield.

"I just volunteer whenever he needs somebody to help out," she added.

However, the association seemed to value her contributions as she was chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) Distinguished Service Award, which she received on Feb. 22.

"It was a total surprise - I had seen these awards given out before, so I knew what to expect, but nobody in my family knew about it," Robin added. "When my daughter got hers, she didn't know, but the rest of us did. They kept this very secret."

Robin's husband, Jim, has been an avid member of MDHA, long enough that she accompanied him to various MDHA fundraiser banquets he had to attend. Rather than sitting alone, waiting for events to begin, she spent the time taking money at the front desk cash office, helping set up the banquets themselves or deciding what will become of prizes distributed. However, she never considered herself to be doing something that made her deserving of an award.

After all, she noted, she feels very strongly about MDHA's mission to educate future hunters, to secure hunting land for non-owner hunters and to keep the state's authorities informed of hunters' and conservationists' wishes.

"I'm willing to help out," she continued. "I like that this organization, the Minnesota Deer Hunters organization, helps with youth education, habitat, and we also have somebody who lobbies at the Capitol about our feelings about deer hunting. We gather all that information and the concerns of deer hunters and bring them up to the legislators."

Robin added that the main thing she likes about the organization is that it has education for kids in gun safety.

"We ask that at least one member of each family becomes a member of MDHA, and there are camps that parents can send their kids to," she explained. "Depending on the camp, they pay for the gun safety, and the chapter pays for the rest of it. One of our camps is at Eagle Bluff, another one is at Lorentzen, and there are a couple more up north. Our son went for two years and loved it."

Robin recalled the awards presentation at the most recent banquet, saying, "The awards are given to people who have done a lot, and the person who was presenting it started the speech, saying that there were two people who always volunteer for this or that, and they don't even know they're getting this award. They called the other lady, then they called my name, and I looked around at my family at the table and said, 'What?'"

Then, she observed, she received her plaque, gave a quick "thank you" and went back to her seat to absorb the honor of being recognized for her "distinguished service."

Robin stated the next thing to do as a volunteer is to continue doing what she's already been doing - lending a hand so that young hunters can learn what to do when they're ready to take a shot at deer on the hoof.

"I'll just continue volunteering - I like helping out," she concluded. "I know the money goes to a good cause...making it safe for future hunters, teaching the young ones and making sure there are enough deer out there for everyone."