The selfless dedication of our volunteers to supporting our mission is what makes Ducks Unlimited so successful in conserving quality wetland and waterfowl habitat for future generations to enjoy. Berkeley County husband and wife team, Robert and Sarah Nell Blackwell, are two of those selfless volunteers. They generously give of their time and talents to further waterfowl conservation and DU’s mission. Both avid outdoorsmen, Robert and Sarah Nell began volunteering with the Berkeley Chapter in 2011 and quickly took on leadership roles within the chapter.
Robert served as the area chairman for two years and grew the DU presence in Berkeley County by more than 50 percent. In 2015, Robert became the South Carolina DU Major Sponsor Chair, working directly with Development Officer Al Clark. Under Robert’s leadership, SCDU was a top 5 state in the country, adding $455,000 in new commitments and $460,000 in new cash to support the DU mission.
Sarah Nell, owner of Wingshot Design, puts her strength in communications, photography and graphic design into growing DU’s conservation message in South Carolina by serving as the SCDU communications and publicity chair and chair of the Region 7 Communications Committee. Locally, she serves as the chairwoman for the Berkeley County DU Chapter, which was awarded the Silver Chapter Excellence Award in 2016. Sarah Nell has the chapter focused on growing their sponsor base and educating the community about the important work that DU is doing in Berkeley County.
On Oct. 1, the Berkeley Chapter hosted a sponsor dinner at The Oakland Club in Pineville to celebrate conservation efforts in Berkeley County and recruit new DU sponsors. The Oakland Club was a gracious host in opening its house and grounds while creating excitement around the event that helped drive attendance. Everyone enjoyed a beautiful fall day touring the private clubhouse and dining on a locally sourced dinner. While dining, guests heard from General Manager Ryan Bowles about land use and conservation practices at Oakland with instrumental partners, including the South Carolina Conservation Bank. Jamie Rader, manager of conservation programs for DU, spoke to guests about the impact of sponsor dollars and gave an update of ongoing projects in Berkeley County, including one at Bonneau Ferry WMA. Between sponsorship renewals and newly acquired sponsors, the Berkeley Chapter surpassed last year’s total sponsorships a month ahead of the banquet. They are projecting an additional 50 percent increase from regular sponsors who were unable to attend the event.
Berkeley DU celebrated its 39th Fall Harvest Banquet Nov. 4, at the Berkeley Country Club. The chapter looks forward to continuing its success into its 40th anniversary. Many thanks to Robert, Sarah Nell and the countless other volunteers who band together as the backbone of DU and further our conservation efforts across the country.