Ducks Unlimited has been blessed with extremely high-quality volunteer leaders from its inception. Beginning with John Hartwell in 1937 and continuing through today with Paul Bonderson, the volunteer presidents of Ducks Unlimited have been the epitome of dedicated leadership and a commitment to leave the earth in better condition than they found it. This past summer marked the passing of two of those great leaders—Hazard Campbell and Bob Marcotte.
Hazard Campbell, who was president of Ducks Unlimited in 1986 and 1987, was a DU member and volunteer for 61 years. We had consoled Hazard, his son Ben, and the entire Campbell family only a little more than two months earlier, after the loss of Hazard's beloved wife, Gina, also a staunch DU supporter, when he passed away suddenly in July. Hazard was known by everyone as a playful, almost mischievous man who exhibited kindness to everyone and immediately displayed a visible twinkle in his eye when talking about his family, duck hunting, or Ducks Unlimited.
Then, less than a month later, another great DU leader left us. Bob Marcotte, who was president of Ducks Unlimited in 1980 and 1981, was a member and volunteer for 58 years. As the Campbell children had, Bob's daughter, Mimi, and son, Robert Jr., grew up in an atmosphere that revered the mission of Ducks Unlimited and the dedication of its volunteers. Bob was known as the consummate gentleman, a thoughtful leader, and the ultimate example of giving back far more than one takes from the earth.
While both of these wonderful leaders will be missed, they will be far from forgotten. You see, both of these men knew that one's legacy is not measured by physical, business, or other nonliving factors. The legacy of leaders is found in the people they inspired to exceed the norm, to instill excitement in innovation, and to discover leaders that heretofore had been obscured from vision. Their legacy is in the leaders they inspired and mentored.
Hazard and Bob volunteered their time and treasures to Ducks Unlimited for a combined 119 years! While this is a truly amazing commitment to conservation, neither Hazard nor Bob would allow the discussion to go any further without clearly recognizing that volunteering for decades with DU is the norm, rather than the exception. That is the magic of leadership. By example, our leaders have shown us what true professionalism looks like and how it behaves. They have displayed a passion that is contagious and challenges all of us to find the leader within ourselves.
DU is composed of an army of 55,000 volunteers who work with fewer than 500 paid staff to accomplish the impossible year after year. As a not-for-profit company, we must go out each year with a new beginning, raising new funds to accomplish our mission of conserving wetlands, water, grasslands, and other waterfowl habitat across the continent. Our goal is to impact a quarter million acres each year with the powerful, positive effects those conservation actions have for both wildlife and people. And we get it done!
Leaders are neither born nor made, but rather chosen by those who would follow to lead the way forward, believing that their leaders will get them to their destination and see the achievement of their goals. Leaders make us believe! They make us believe in ourselves, our mission, and that we will succeed. We will miss Hazard and Bob. But their legacy is alive and well in an army of Ducks Unlimited leaders.