The Rebecca Romero Hunting Legacy
On July 26th, 2018, just over five weeks after Rebecca's death, her sister, Selena, was contacted by Mateen Hessami, a friend of Rebecca's and then Vice President of the University of Montana's Collegiate Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (UM BHA). In his message he included details about how UM BHA had received a grant just that Spring and that a portion of the grant was to be used to fund three to four scholarships for UM undergraduate students from out of the state and had an interest in getting a hunting license in the state of Montana.
The UM BHA felt that Becca, who had been a member of the group, personified the type of new hunter that this award wanted to focus on as an undergraduate, non-resident student, who was highly motivated to not only enter the hunting culture of Montana, but was keenly focused on the role hunting played in the conservation of the wildlife that lives in Montana. Would our family be okay with naming the scholarship after her?
And so, the scholarship was officially introduced as the "Rebecca Romero Hunting Legacy Award" in time for the 2018 Fall hunting season. Drawing from the Schools of Forestry and Wildlife Biology Programs. that first year, three awards were offered. One of the awards was funded through the BHA program itself. The second was funded through a donation by the Goerz family who facilitated the Hunter mentorship Program. The third was funded by ourselves (the Romero Family) through sales of art we created for this specific effort. There were thirteen applicants that first year with Madeline Damon (Wisconsin), Atlas McKinley (California), and Sarah Lutch (Arizona) being selected for the awards. In the years since, over 60 over sixty students who had come from states outside of Montana have applied for the award with eighteen awards being given.
This year, there were only 7 applicants, but this was due to a change in Montana law which offered students from states that had reciprocal agreements to offer hunting and fishing licenses at resident rates. This change has created an exciting opportunity for non-resident students to have a greater likelihood to save up and afford a hunting license at only 20% of the cost they would have paid in previous years. Because of this law change, the Goerz family has chosen to support awards that focus of students from states with such agreements, while Montana BHA and our family have chosen to continue to support students who must still pay the well over five hundred dollars for their licenses. In the end, it is all worth while. Reading letters from some of the students about their very first hunting experiences as well as those who found a chance to continue a family tradition they thought they would miss out on while attending college, made it clear that this is an effort we will continue to support for many years to come.