"This generation prepares things for the next. Every generation has that responsibility - we can't skip a single one," said Ducks Unlimited Benefactor Sponsor Doug Roberts. "In the 1990s, I watched duck numbers drop in Alabama and I had to get involved, so I joined Ducks Unlimited." Since joining in 1995, Doug's involvement has grown exponentially, culminating in his recent appointment to DU's National Development Committee.
Doug graduated from the School of Forestry at Auburn, after which he became a heavy equipment salesman for Caterpillar and finally the owner of a coal-handling business. He has been in the coal industry for the last 13 years. "The United States was built by heavy industry and its continued greatness depends on it. This doesn't mean that the environment has to be sacrificed," Doug explained. "The positive impact of environmental groups is that they are litmus tests of how we are doing as stewards. Industry will continue to improve its environmental record."
Coming from a long line of outdoorsmen, Doug has been hunting as long as he can remember. His wife, Joni, joins him in field but doesn't hunt, while his daughter, Elizabeth, has been hunting since she was 5.
Doug and his partners own two properties bearing conservation easements that total about 1,000 acres. "Growing up, I was exposed to people who were good stewards of their land; now stewardship is first in my mind," Doug said. "These lands and the easements that protect them will be great wintering grounds for wildlife for generations to come. Osprey, eagles, and other animals - it's good for all, not just for ducks. I feel proud I've helped establish habitat that will be here for a very long time."
Beyond his own land, Doug has made significant contributions to the future of waterfowl through his ongoing involvement with Ducks Unlimited. "The benefits I have gotten from my association with DU are special," Doug said. "It may sound a bit crazy, but the inspiration I have gotten from DU caused me to take an investment risk on a 3,000-acre farm in Arkansas. We have instituted conservation practices to protect the ducks' habitat there. It is my goal to leave it better than I found it. I don't hunt it, and I don't mind putting my money where my mouth is."
Doug's support of DU's general fund and various other programs, as well as his work with conservation easements, has provided him a wealth of experience he now brings to the National Development Committee. In this new role, he will help guide the committee's efforts to secure new funds and protect more habitat across the continent.
Last spring, Doug attended the Prairie Experience, an event hosted by DU's Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck, North Dakota. "That setting brings everything home," Doug said of the prairie landscape. "Once you look behind the curtain of grass, there is so much to see. Every acre we lose is a serious loss. By supporting Ducks Unlimited, I am helping stop this loss; I'm helping make it better."
Doug's story was featured in the 2013 Ducks Unlimited Annual Report. Learn more about becoming a DU Major Sponsor online, or by contacting Senior Manager of Development Operations Anita Tyler at (901) 758-3871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.