Inspiring the Next Generation of Conservationists

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Photo © Jonathan Brazell

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Among the most unforgettable moments of Ducks Unlimited's 77th annual convention this spring was a surprise Diamond Legacy Sponsor commitment to DU's youth and education programs by Susan "Susie" Konkel. DU Chairman of the Board John Newman and Youth and Education Committee Chairman Ronal Roberson welcomed Susie onstage during Saturday's business session to announce the gift.

"It is my pleasure to share with you that Susie is both a believer and an investor in DU's youth and education programs, committed to fostering tomorrow's conservationists," Roberson told the convention crowd.

Although she's now retired from teaching, Susie's commitment to children remains strong, as does her desire to help them connect with the outdoors. "Kids need to enjoy waterfowl," she explains. "The beauty of ducks and geese is amazing. And it's not just about raising more waterfowl-it's about providing places for them to live and raise their young. It's about conservation."

Susie became a teacher with the hopes of inciting wonder in her students and helping them see beyond the day's lessons. "My parents, boarding school, and summer camp in Maine shaped my view of the outdoors and caring about other people," she recalls. "They all pointed me in the direction of teaching."

Susie's older brother, Jim, also a DU Diamond Legacy Sponsor and an at-large board member, introduced her to Ducks Unlimited. It didn't take Susie long to connect with DU's youth program. The first Greenwing event she organized was a field trip to Maine's Scarborough Marsh, near her home in Cape Elizabeth.

The programs supported by Susie's philanthropy underscore her commitment to reaching our youngest conservationists. Over the next five years, her generosity will allow Ducks Unlimited to expand education programs, create multimedia platforms, and further develop youth-focused volunteer efforts. Susie's gift will give thousands of children the opportunity to learn about the science and wonder of waterfowl.