DU National Convention Draws Wetlands Conservation Leaders, Top Volunteers

DU National Convention Draws Wetlands Conservation Leaders, Top Volunteers

82nd annual gathering was held May 28-June 1 in Hawaii

WAIKOLOA VILLAGE, Hawaii – June 1, 2019 – Ducks Unlimited held its 82nd annual national convention May 29-June 1, at the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

The event drew more than 900 volunteers as well as conservation leaders and partners from the United States, Canada and Mexico. 

Ducks Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ducks Unlimited de Mexico and Wetlands America Trust representatives led Saturday’s celebration of the successful completion of DU’s ambitious “Rescue Our Wetlands: Banding Together for Waterfowl” campaign. 

The $2 billion continental campaign was launched seven years ago and will go down as one of the largest conservation campaigns in history.

Ducks Unlimited President Rogers Hoyt announced the campaign, which closed in December 2018, vastly exceeded the $2 billion goal, raising an astonishing $2.34 billion and conserving 2,236,435 acres of habitat for waterfowl, other wildlife, people and the communities in which they live.

In his address to the DU volunteers, members, donors and supporters gathered on the Big Island, DU Major Donor and Wetlands America Trust trustee James Cox Kennedy, chairman of Cox Enterprises, said the conservation work is not over. 

“I grew up in Hawaii and there’s a Hawaiian word for family – ohana,” Kennedy said. “Ducks Unlimited is an ohana. We are passionate about ducks. Our ohana should celebrate our success, but there is so much work to be done. I will do everything I can as long as I can to help and support the greatest waterfowl organization in the world.” 

Team DU also honored the career of retiring Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall. 

“I’ve had an incredible nine years as CEO of Ducks Unlimited,” Hall said in his farewell address. “A leader is only as good as the team. Great leaders know that. I know that Ducks Unlimited will continue our mission. We will never surrender. We know Team DU is making a difference and my wife, Sarah, and I thank you for everything you’ve done.”

And with Hall’s retirement, the organization formally welcomed new CEO Adam Putnam. 

“I  joined Ducks Unlimited when I was 16 and have a lifelong appreciation of the conservation work the organization accomplishes,” Putnam said. “It’s humbling to be chosen as DU’s CEO, and as a lifelong hunter, angler, rancher and conservationist, I look forward to building on our incredible record of success.” 

In other business, Steve Christian, Colstrip, Montana; Ruth Hoefs, Le Center, Minnesota; Ken Carroll, Jackson, Mississippi; Bill Ebert, Blanchester, Ohio; Jim Vachris, Wilmington, Delaware; Dan Ross, Spotsylvania, Virginia; Bob Filbert, Fairview, Texas; Mike McShane, Johns Island, South Carolina; Dan Ray, Georgetown, South Carolina, and Scott Stamerjohn, Quincy, Illinois, were elected to Ducks Unlimited’s national board of directors during the national convention. 

In addition to the annual elections, this year’s convention featured opportunities for conservation-related education, special tours and entertainment and a Friday keynote addresses by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. 

To be successful in its conservation mission, the Department of the Interior relies heavily on partners like Ducks Unlimited. 

“Conservation of our wetlands is a critical part of keeping our ecosystems healthy and functioning properly,” Bernhardt said. “Ducks Unlimited has been a leader here. I know it and appreciate it.”

Axalta Coating Systems CEO Robert Bryant accepted DU’s Corporate Conservation Achievement Award on behalf of Axalta during the Friday business session. The award was created to recognize corporations from the United States, Canada or Mexico that have made exceptional contributions to conservation in North America.

The second annual Wings Over Wetlands Awards Gala, held to honor DU’s top volunteers, was again hosted by conservationist, environmental journalist and television personality Jeff Corwin.

Special thanks to our proud partner First National Bank of Omaha for sponsoring this year’s convention.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the worlds largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.