The initial organizational meeting for the prospective Greensburg, Kan., Ducks Unlimited committee was put on hold three years ago. Rebuilding the town took precedence.
"A planning meeting had been scheduled, but then we had the storm," DU committee chairman Brandon Hosheit said. "That stopped everything in its tracks."
"The storm" was a devastating EF5 tornado on May 4, 2007, that destroyed 95 percent of the town of then-1,400 residents. Twelve people died during the carnage. More than 900 homes were destroyed.
"Every committee member lost their home and vehicles," said Hosheit, a Greensburg native and an employee of the Kansas Highway Patrol. "It took a while to get things up and going again."
In November, Hosheit and a group of a dozen volunteers hosted the town's first Ducks Unlimited event at the Kiowa County Community Center. More than 200 people attended.
"We were really happy with the turnout," Hosheit said. "The population is barely over 900 right now. But people came out and supported the event."
The support, in fact, was record-breaking by Kansas Ducks Unlimited fundraising standards.
"It was awesome," DU regional director Barry Allen said, "way beyond expectations. They set a record in Kansas for the best first-time event ever. The committee grossed over $30,000 and netted over $20,000. The previous best was $13,500, so they blew the record out of the water."
One of three new Kansas Ducks Unlimited events held during 2010, the Greensburg dinner/auction, is testament to support of the conservation ethic. Introduce the idea, explain Ducks Unlimited's role in waterfowl and wetlands conservation, and people will rally around the cause, even in extraordinary circumstances.
"Four or five of our committee members had never been to a DU dinner before so we drove them over to Pratt just to show them how events worked," Hosheit said. "Then we were off and running."
Located in the southwest portion of the state, Greensburg is not considered a duck-hunting hot spot. But nearby Texas Lake, the site of an extensive Ducks Unlimited wetland restoration project, offers local gunning opportunities.
"Texas Lake is in our backyard, so that's where the duck hunters go," Hosheit said. "Ducks Unlimited played a big role there."
Plans for the future are in the making.
"I've heard nothing but good things about the DU banquet," Hosheit said. "A lot of people are already talking about next year."