BASS Times: Michigan, North Carolina win Drive the Nation

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. — Two corporate sponsors and BASS founder Ray Scott are continuing to help the Federation Nation grow through the Drive the Nation program.

 During the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship Awards Banquet, Nov. 8, Federation Nation Director Don Corkran announced that the Michigan and North Carolina Federation Nation chapters were the division winners in the 2007-2008 Drive the Nation recruiting contest. The two states earned the contest's grand prizes donated by Toyota Trucks and Skeeter Boats/Yamaha Outboards.

 Michigan won the Division 1 grand prize of a Toyota Tundra truck by achieving the greatest percentage increase in membership, and North Carolina received a Skeeter bass boat/Yamaha outboard rig for earning the same achievement in Division 2.

 Michigan increased its membership by 42.1 percent to win Division 1, which consisted of Federation Nations that had more than 400 members at the beginning of the year. North Carolina topped Division 2 (chapters with fewer than 400 members) by increasing its membership 131.58 percent.

 Two other states won the first-place prize — a visit from BASS founder Ray Scott for any Federation Nation event — by recruiting the most new members in a year. Kansas won the first prize in Division 1 by adding 137 members, and West Virginia earned the Division 2 prize for recruiting 156 new members.

 The Drive the Nation program started in 2007 but only ran for 90 days. "We saw some increase, but it did not work as well as we knew it would if we ran it for an entire calendar year," said Corkran. The program was expanded to a full year, which began Nov. 1, 2007, and ran through Oct. 31, 2008.

 "That created a much better opportunity for those Federations to grow, and because I sent out monthly reports, it created a good level of competition among a number of states," said Corkran.

 Michigan tried a different approach to win top honors this year. "We put on our own contest, called Drive the State, and gave out $500 prizes for the most members earned in a club and the greatest percentage increase," said Paul Sacks, Michigan Federation Nation president.

 The Calhoun County Bass Club won both categories of the contest by nearly doubling the size of the club with 18 new members.

 "They made an effort to contact every former member of the club, which has been in existence for more than 25 years," said Sacks. "If they couldn't get the former member back, they reached out to the families and kids of that former member."

 The Michigan Federation Nation also revamped its youth program and added three new junior clubs to boost membership.

 Chuck Murray, North Carolina Federation Nation president, said his state was bolstered by the recruiting efforts of the Sandy Creek BASS Masters (the largest club in the state), Steve Dyer and the South Fork Bass Masters, and Jeff Narron and the Five County Bass Masters.

 "Our board budgeted about $1,500 for advertisement and member recruitment," said Murray. "We also decided to take on a major project in hosting a tournament fundraiser for the regional Boys and Girls Club in my area. By hosting this event, we got a lot of exposure, made a lot of contacts and signed up 50-plus junior members."

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