National Elks leaders visit Alexandria
The Alexandria Elks Lodge hosted the Minnesota Elks Convention on June 23-24.
Elks leaders at the state and national level attended, including Michael Zellen, national president, Paul Ryan, who serves on the Elks' national board of trustees, and Dwayne Rumney, past national president.
As the current national president, Zellen is visiting all 50 states to see first-hand the active role Elks members play in their communities. He encourages Elks lodges to "get involved and stay involved."
"It's amazing what the Elks are doing throughout our country," Zellen told the Echo Press during a short break in his Alexandria visit. "At the local, state and national levels, collectively, we've put more than $300 million into our communities."
The Elks' programs are widespread and broadly focused, including everything from supporting veterans to providing youth scholarships, Zellen said. Elks members also put a priority on helping senior citizens and increasing drug awareness.
One major project the Elks are looking forward to this summer is a Minnesota Elks Youth Camp, that will allow more than 500 children, ages 9 through 13, to experience biking, swimming, cabin life, archery and more.
Zellen expressed optimism about the organization's membership. At its high point 30 years ago, there were about 1.7 million members. Although it has since dropped to about 774,000 members, the decreases have been less and less the last three years. "We are going in the right direction," Zellen said.