Mississippi Sponsors - Gary and Johanna Blair

From corporate engagement to personal commitment

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Pres. Rogers Hoyt, Jr. (lt) & MSDU Chair Ken Carroll (rt) with the Blairs at the 2017 MSDU State Convention.

Photo © Andi Cooper

Native Mississippian Gary Blair spent 35 years working Southern AgCredit. While it was corporate sponsor engagement that introduced him to Ducks Unlimited, the mission and people he discovered led him to personally volunteer and become a Life Sponsor.

“I would have to give the credit to Bruce Lewis, Former DU President and his son, Grayson Lewis, Area Chairman for encouraging me to become more involved with DU,” Gary said. “It was through the Lewis family and the Natchez chapter that I learned to enjoy being a part of the DU family.”

Blair and his wife of 36 years, Johanna, have pledged to become Diamond Life and Grand Slam Sponsors. He is the chairman of the Brookhaven/Lincoln County Chapter, and has been on the local board for the past five years. Gary encourages people to become sponsors through local events. Despite its 14-million acre continental footprint, DU is still very much a grassroots supported organization, and it all starts at the local chapter level.

His engagement with the state and national associations of conservation districts have given him a front-row view of the way DU partners with landowners, NRCS, local conservation districts, and others to preserve our natural resources so future generations can enjoy the land and the ducks.

“Throughout my work with Farm Credit, I have been fortunate to see many DU projects in wetland conservation,” Gary said. “Ducks Unlimited is a great organization that does a great job putting the dollars that we give into the actual wetland conservation and restoration.”

Beyond Ducks Unlimited and his family, Gary’s greatest passion is for Mississippi State University. He is a season ticket holder for football, baseball, and men’s and women’s basketball.

“If the Bulldogs are playing anywhere across the United States, my family is usually there,” said the former national president of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association. “We have a condominium in Starkville, and it’s considered our second home.”

Furthering his contributions to conservation and natural resources management, Gary has endowed scholarships in the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as well as the College of Business.

“Conservation of our natural resources should be a major part of how we all live our lives. It is important that we all try to leave this world better that we found it,” he said.