By Katie Shane
As a senior at Iowa State University, Jace Klein has big plans for the end of 2015. This year will be filled with final projects and assignments as he wraps up his four years in Ames, Iowa. But finishing strong academically isn't Klein's only goal.
Klein is the area chairman of Iowa State University's Ducks Unlimited chapter, and he is setting his sights on accomplishing a fundraising record for the chapter.
"It would be awesome," he says. "I think the goal every year would be to have more than the previous year. I really think if we get the word out there we can do it."
The group's mid-October banquet in 2014 raised nearly $12,000 with 175 people in attendance. The chapter brought in another $5,000 from additional projects throughout the year. Klein says the 2014 banquet was the best the chapter has ever hosted, but now he wants more.
It's that drive and determination to succeed that has made the chapter so successful, says DU Regional Director Josh Finley. "I would say a big part of it is Jace Klein," he says. "The committee just made it a goal to go out and fill the hall. They blew attendance out of the water from the previous year."
Founded in 1985, the Iowa State University chapter is the only university chapter in the state of Iowa. With 30 committee members, Klein and co-chairman Sam Bernard have no shortage of help when it comes to planning the annual banquet. What they don't have an abundance of is time.
"One thing that is different with the Iowa State chapter is the large amount of turnover," Finley explains. "They are done in four or five years, so there is a constant turnover every year of leadership and committee members. But they are very enthusiastic. With them getting back to class in August and having an October event, they are go-getters when they get to campus."
That go-getter attitude is thanks in part to Ducks Unlimited itself. Klein and others from the Iowa State chapter attend DU's annual leadership summit, Third Term. Hosted at DU's national headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, the weekend conference welcomes collegiate DU leaders from around the country to celebrate their success and work toward a larger impact for waterfowl and wetlands.
"I went to the leadership summit and it was really motivating," Klein says. "They gave us ideas of things we could do to draw more people. It gave us a kick-start and we kept that rolling into the banquet, which made us really successful."
The Story City, Iowa, native isn't just working on a DU banquet, however—he leads events for the chapter throughout the year. In 2014, Klein hosted a fundraising raffle and organized hunts and social outings for chapter members. The group also volunteered to craft wood duck boxes locally in Ames. Klein says his involvement with Ducks Unlimited is for two big reasons: enjoying his time in college, but also looking to the future.
"Besides being a duck hunter, I always had a passion for the outdoors in general and I could appreciate it," Klein says. "I have always liked Ducks Unlimited's mission and it's what I love to do. I think about getting my [future] kids out someday to enjoy the things that I enjoyed and being able to benefit from it all."
The Iowa State banquet is set for October 24, 2015. To learn more about this event, visit http://www.ducks.org/iowa/events/39322/isu-du-banquet-ames