Ken Moonie, CFO, CalWOF
Tell us about yourself…
My name is Ken Moonie. I’ve been involved with Calwof since the beginning, actually. I’ve worked in the agricultural business most of my career and had several friends who founded Calwof. More recently, I joined the Board as the Chief Financial Officer.
In your own words, how would you describe the significance of the work that Calwof does, to support the wildlife officers?
Oh, it’s been unbelievable and a real inspiration for me, just personally to be involved and to meet so many fine young men and women. You know, we live in such a polarized world and lots of angst about law enforcement and other issues… To meet these young men and women and to see what they’re doing and how they’re serving our country and our nature and our environment and protecting our environment and all they go through from a very intense qualification process to go through, to be trained, to become game wardens. It’s just been unbelievable, frankly, beyond anything I could have thought from the beginning. The foundation has really grown over the years originally was started by some gentlemen who were really interested in helping. We were all hunters, but they’re really interested in providing support for game wardens and their families, and it’s just grown into an amazing organization.
What are some ways that people have incorporated health into their estate planning?
Well, that’s an interesting question. That’s sort of a new thing for us. It was started mainly by a lot of donations from people and now, as we’ve become more known, more and more people have put us in their inheritance and are gifting plans. We have just had amazing gifts from people, but we had one experience lately that just really was incredible. An older couple without children reached out to us and wanted to make sure that we knew that we were in their plans for their legacy when they passed, and they are going to leave us a substantial amount of money, and it’s going to be dedicated exclusively to our canine program, which involves buying dogs, buying equipment to help wardens who have dogs and also medicine and other treatment that dogs encounter. These dogs are true wardens. They save wardens’ lives. They make their lives safer. They’ve lost their lives and duty. That is an incredible gift from this couple who really, really care about canines. One of the women involved was involved with CalTIP and is leaving quite a bit of their legacy to UC Davis for the veterinarian program. Even in my own planning, we’ve made plans that there’ll be a donation to Calwof when my wife and I pass away.
It’s exciting to hear that people are looking for more creative ways to become involved to support the wildlife officers and help spread awareness around everything that wildlife officers do to support the state of California.
Most people think of a game warden as “going out and catching a poacher.” And that certainly is part of it and protecting our environment. But it goes way beyond that. You’ll often read about a mountain lion that has attacked some people in some cases and a warden will be called in. Or there could even be a hazardous waste spill. We just had this oil spill and fish and wildlife will respond to that. There are just so many ways that they interact with the public. They have boats now and are out patrolling the seas. It’s incredible. Also, interacting and helping people… Game Wardens deal with some very dangerous situations and they do it with complete professionalism.
What can you tell us about Calwof’s scholarship program?
To me, it’s my favorite part. Our mission is to support wildlife officers and their families. So that involves providing funding in an emergency situation that one might encounter. For example, the fire, some of the wardens have lost their homes and we’ve provided support for them in those tragic situations. Also, there’s a lot of team building and safety. As I said earlier, a lot goes into canine, but scholarships are by far my favorite. We’ve been doing it for some time and have given over $540,000 to children of wildlife officers and in some cases, spouses of wildlife officers. This year we did something that was really, really fun. Every year, candidates have to submit essays and you read these essays and you just know this country is in good hands. These wardens are not only incredible people, but they’re also incredible parents and you see it in their kids. Their kids reach out and talk about the influence that their mother or father has had on them and what they’ve learned. This year, we added a specific question: “Tell us how your warden parent has influenced you in your career choices, or in your life choices for university,” and some of them bring you to tears but also some hilarious stories and really fun stories. One woman, she’s going to be a doctor. We’ve provided funding all through her undergraduate and postgraduate and now medical school, and to practice for putting stitches in, she took a duck that her father had shot and did surgery to remove the BBs and then stitched up the duck and then assured us that she’d removed the stitches before they ate the duck. So just wonderful stories help us get to connect with these kids and almost all of them have something to do with public service or the environment which you would expect. They know what they want to do in many cases, and it’s always about helping other people, just like their parents.
Anything else that you’d like to discuss, and how can people get involved with Calwof and take action?
A good source of information for us is our website. We put a lot of effort into that. Updating, posting, giving examples, and things that are happening. And of course, there’s a nice button that people can hit to make a donation. But we also have some great shirts and other items people can buy. We recently were involved in something for breast cancer awareness, where we’re able to raise more than $6000 to the Breast Cancer Society. Just yet another example of how the foundation is out there and always trying to broaden our message and get more people involved and supporting us.