Since its inception, the goal of Wetlands America Trust has been to provide specialized financial and philanthropic support to Ducks Unlimited. WAT's principal role is the fiduciary responsibility for Ducks Unlimited's endowment and land holdings, including conservation easements. To date, WAT holds more than 400 easements encompassing nearly 358,000 acres and manages several endowment funds totaling approximately $21 million. Not only has WAT been successful with its primary charge, the 27 trustees have individually taken up the mantle to introduce Ducks Unlimited and our conservation programs to their friends, family and colleagues.
Under the volunteer leadership of President John Childs, the trustees are currently focused on three key activities: providing and securing philanthropic support, engaging in public policy, and strategic planning. Since the beginning of the Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, WAT members have given or solicited more than $80 million to support DU's highest priority landscape conservation programs. With the goal of bringing a more strategic approach to the Trust's fundraising efforts, President Childs recently appointed several trustees to serve on a Development Committee to undertake highly individualized and directed fundraising for DU. Led by Deke Welles, the eight-member committee is using the trustees' vast personal and business networks to recruit new hunter-conservationists.
Each year Congress and state legislatures make important decisions about wildlife habitat conservation programs that directly impact the long-term health of waterfowl populations. Recognizing the importance of strong relationship with policy makers, trustees work in concert with Ducks Unlimited staff to educate public officials on policy issues essential to DU's conservation mission. President Childs recently appointed past DU President John Tomke as chair of the Government Affairs Committee to coordinate these activities.
Implementing well thought out, science–based plans has been a hallmark of Ducks Unlimited since the beginning. One example of a complementary strategic effort is the Rescue the Duck Factory campaign. This campaign is a joint effort between DU and WAT to raise awareness and to permanently protect the best waterfowl breeding habitat in the country. The WAT trustees look forward to working with DU Chief Executive Officer Dale Hall to renew a coordinated, synergistic strategic planning effort between the two organizations President Childs sums up the attitude and approach of all WAT members, "Working to secure waterfowl habitat in perpetuity and inviting others to join me in this quest are the primary ways that I give back to the sport I love and to the organization that helps make my sport possible, Ducks Unlimited."
Posted: May 2010