The Colorado-based Ducks Unlimited fundraising staff took top honors this year at DU’s recent Leadership Conference in Memphis. Two of the state’s fundraising staff were chosen as the top in their field nationally in separate awards. Kirk Davidson was named National Ducks Unlimited Director of Development of the Year and Erik Wettersten was awarded National Regional Director of the Year.
The full Great Plains Region’s (GPR) development team, which includes Colorado, was also named DU’s National Region of the Year.
Davidson and Wettersten have been friends for about 15 years, beginning when Davidson was the state’s regional director (RD) and Wettersten a volunteer. In 2009, Davidson became a director of development, working with major sponsors in Colorado and Kansas, and Wettersten took the Colorado RD position. Since then, they have worked together on dozens of events.
“Kirk and I share a strong passion for conservation, the outdoors and, particularly, waterfowl,” Wettersten said. “We both served many years as volunteers before joining DU as full-time staff. The relationship, rapport and shared humor we’ve built through years of hunting and working together has served to help each of us in our fundraising roles.”
Davidson began volunteering for Ducks Unlimited in the early 1980s and went to work for DU in 2002, after retiring from a 30-year military career. This past year, he exceeded both of his development goals, one of them by 209 percent. Davidson hosts the Colorado Platte Experience for major sponsors, and he and Wettersten play pivotal roles in the Denver Sponsor Gala, the top DU event in the nation.
“I truly have the greatest job in DU having the distinct honor of serving and working for major donors. These are folks who love and monetarily support our organization, and it’s a pleasure to be their interface with DU,” Davidson said. “We could not achieve our outstanding acres conserved mission without our awesome major donors and to respond to their philanthropic plans and desires is truly an honor and pleasure.“
Eric Lindstrom, GPR managing director of development, says Davidson and Wettersten have had an incredible year working with DU’s generous supporters.
“Kirk has done an excellent job collaborating with DU volunteers, staff and partners to help support our conservation efforts in Colorado and across the Prairie Pothole Region, one of DU’s highest priority landscapes,” Lindstrom said.
Davidson has been named regional DOD of the year twice and has also twice been a part of the annual million-dollar club.
Wettersten has been an RD for eight years, working with Colorado volunteers to develop and grow Ducks Unlimited’s event fundraising system. He designed a software system, called Frontdesk, that is used for running DU events across the country. Wettersten also developed the “Area Chair Bootcamp” curriculum and the DU Banquet Survival Guide.
“Being a DU regional director has allowed me the privilege of working with a fantastic group of passionate sportsmen and sportswomen volunteers,” he said. “This award is really something I share with hundreds of great volunteers because it is the energy, ideas and hard work of those volunteers that made it possible.”
This is Wettersten’s second national RD of the year award. He is also a four-time recipient of RD of the year for the Great Plains Region.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's 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.
Becky Jones Mahlum