In 2012, we celebrated the 75th birthday of Ducks Unlimited Inc. with more than 100 Diamond-level fundraising events and a very successful year of conservation delivery across the continent. When DU was founded in 1937, the clear objective was to raise money here in the United States and use it to protect duck nesting habitats in Canada. But who would deliver that on-the-ground conservation north of the border? DU's founders realized early that there had to be a Canadian partner who would be responsible for implementing the desperately needed wetland projects on the prairies. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) was launched in 1938, which means this year it's their turn to celebrate 75 years of dedicated service to the conservation of North America's waterfowl.
Ducks Unlimited prides itself on knowing that across this continent we are one family. From the waterfowl breeding grounds of Canada's boreal forests and prairies to the migration and wintering areas of the central and southern United States down into Mexico, we are one Team DU. No international boundaries separate us. Our decisions about where and how to focus our conservation efforts are driven by the needs of waterfowl.
From that very first project—Duck Factory No. 1 on Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba—DU seemed destined to create a new path for wetlands and waterfowl conservation. The emerging science of game management was already beginning to demonstrate that habitat was the key to the success of wild bird populations, and for waterfowl that meant conserving the birds' nesting grounds. The techniques developed through those early wetland projects are still in use today and have informed the development of new water-management strategies all across this continent. But how was this done?
Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers have proved a formidable team, accomplishing what many never thought possible: the conservation of more than 13 million acres across North America, including over 6.3 million acres on 9,000 projects in Canada alone. It took more than science to make this happen. Dedicated people put the science to work and decided they would not give up until the job was done. In Bruce Batt's chronicle of the history of DU Canada, he wrote: "There are literally a million stories within the story of DUC. I most sincerely hope that a few of the accounts in this manuscript touch meaningfully on some aspects of each reader's past, present, and future experience, and their relationship with the organization."
Indeed, it is to the people who decided they would become "Marsh Keepers" that the DU Canada story belongs. These men and women who worked as a team, whose passion and love of the natural world would not allow them to simply walk away from the challenge, helped make DU the largest and most successful wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization in the world. To me, that means all those wonderful conservation heroes who came before us in Ducks Unlimited Inc., Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Ducks Unlimited de Mexico. It means my good friend and partner Greg Siekaniec, CEO of DUC, and the volunteer leadership provided by DUC Chairman of the Board Tom Worden and President Malcolm Dunfield.
To all our friends and colleagues at Ducks Unlimited Canada, we say Happy 75th Birthday, DUC!