- Columbia DU chapter chairs (Left to Right): Aaron Brooks, Valerie Hentges and Jim Schepers
Ask anyone on the Columbia, Mo., DU Chapter committee and they all say the same thing: this chapter knows how to have fun. They will also tell you that fun comes with a ton of hard work, a considerable investment of time and a vibrant passion for DU's mission to put wetlands on the ground, and ducks in the air.
The Columbia Chapter hosted a variety of events during 2010, the staple being their annual banquet. They delivered an overwhelmingly successful banquet full of raffles and silent and live auctions that drew close to 450 people. But perhaps what makes the Columbia Chapter's annual banquet stand out from the crowd is their commitment to including everyone, even kids, in the night's fun. While parents enjoyed a four-star dinner and engaged in the live auction, a chapter sub-committee went over and above to entertain close to 50 Greenwings in their own "mini-banquet." Here, kids ranging from four to 17-years-old saw duck calling demonstrations and received their very own duck call. The kids also had the fun of participating in a raffle, where each one went home with a prize. And thanks to an anonymous donor, all Greenwings tickets are paid for in advance.
"Our committee understands that DU's future lies in the knowledge and passion of wetland conservation passed on to Greenwings," said Jim Schepers, a chairman of the Columbia DU committee.
Not only does the "man-power" of the committee put in their time for the ducks, but many of the committee members' wives and other conservation-minded women come together each year to host their own ladies wine event. This past year, the room was full of traditional DU merchandise, specialty items, and sporting packages that appealed to the level of DU spirit in each woman. The committee's last traditional event of the year culminated in an intimate sponsor event raising additional dollars for the ducks.
Throughout the year, the chapter also engaged in several non-traditional events and activities. Several dedicated committee members took on the challenge of building the Sealed Bid Auction program into an integral part of the chapter's fundraising efforts, generating several thousand dollars in the process. During DU month with Bass Pro Shops, the chapter organized several activities at the local Bass Pro store with the Greenwings on a fun and educational level; demonstrations were conducted for all levels of expertise and interest.
Fortunately, the Columbia chapter doesn't keep mum about their tried-and-true tactics for success. "I think a big part of our chapter's growth is that our committee is always looking to recruit new members, though we also have stability because some members have served for 39 years," said Aaron Brooks, another of the committee tri-chairs. "We have also stressed getting as many costs underwritten as possible, be it through the corporate community or individual donations. And one thing we traditionally rely on is selling 85-90 percent of our event tickets as corporate table sales. Combined with our commitment to always fill the hall, these strategies have paid off for our chapter in a big way."
In retrospect, Schepers feels 2010 couldn't have gone much better for the Columbia chapter. "Looking back over the past year, the committee worked together for the greater good of the ducks and wetland conservation as we reached toward our chapter and state goals," Schepers said. "Despite the less-than-stellar economic climate, we were still able to garner the community and corporate support necessary to raise our efficiency over last year's. Filling the hall and working hard for the ducks made 2010 a successful building block toward the future of our committee, the state of Missouri and DU as a whole."