Ducks Unlimited volunteer Jeff Gorr was a finalist in the
Field & Stream 2013 Heroes of Conservation contest. Jeff is the chair of the Greenwing program in Sheboygan, Wis., and works to get more kids outdoors and involved in duck hunting.
DU: Congratulations on being named one of Field & Stream’s six finalists in the Heroes of Conservation awards. Tell us why you were nominated.
My wife didn’t nominate me personally; she nominated the Greenwing program as a whole. She thought it would be a nice way that we could get a little bit more money for our program to benefit the kids of Sheboygan County. When I got the call from Field & Stream, I was totally shocked. There are so many conservation projects throughout this country that I never really expected to hear anything from Field & Stream. Then when I got the call that we were up for conservation hero of the year, myself personally, I was speechless – which doesn’t happen very often.
To be chosen as one of the six finalists for Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation is just a phenomenal honor. I think I was even more proud to be representing Ducks Unlimited and our Greenwing committee to draw attention to the great work that DU does with the kids’ programs and the great job that Ducks does overall with wetlands and wildlife habitat improvements.
DU: What’s kept you involved with the Greenwing program for more than 35 years?
The joy you see in the boys’ and girls’ eyes [has kept me a part of the Greenwing program]. You’re touching these young boys and girls with the love of the outdoors that I have. Knowing that if we can get half of these boys and girls to get away from their TVs, computer games and video games, and get them in the outdoors, they will be the ones who will carry on the tradition of hunting. More importantly, they are going to be the ones who carry on the tradition of wildlife conservation.
A good case in point is the work that Ducks Unlimited does. People look at Ducks Unlimited as a great environmental organization, but they are a hunting organization as well. A lot of people don’t realize that it is the sportsmen and women who really preserve and protect the wildlife areas for future generations. That’s what keeps me involved. When my son was young and I took him hunting for the first time, I’ll never forget the look on his face when he shot his first blue-winged teal. As long as I live, I will never forget that great big smile this boy had when he shot his first duck. Someday I might have grandkids that will hopefully be able to go out and enjoy the same things I did – fishing, hunting and hiking. If we lose these wildlife areas, they’re going to be gone forever. Because of the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, and the tax that all sportsmen and women pay on their hunting items, guns and ammunition, this money is used to purchase, preserve and protect wildlife areas. Your non-consumptive users don’t do that.