The Power of the Citizen

Insights from DU CEO Dale Hall

At Ducks Unlimited we often talk about the importance of our members and volunteers being involved in the political discussions that will decide conservation actions. We have asked you to send emails or write letters to your congressional representatives encouraging strong support for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), increasing the price of duck stamps, reauthorization of the Farm Bill, and others. I am very pleased to report that our activities have borne fruit and conservation has been well served. But it couldn't happen without you.

In this issue of the magazine, you will see articles highlighting our work with our agriculture partners and the first-ever fly-in (to Washington, D.C.) by our state chairs and policy chairs. The value of our volunteer efforts in these areas of importance cannot be overemphasized. While I'm proud of our dedicated staff and the great work they do across all programs, it is and has always been the dedication and commitment of our volunteers that separates us from the rest of the conservation world. Ducks Unlimited volunteers not only give their treasures, they also give the most important gift anyone can give: their time. Time spent at well over 4,000 events each year. Time spent introducing a newcomer to the sport of hunting, and educating them about all the wonders they are seeing for the first time. And, critically important, spending time visiting with their elected representatives and educating them on the importance to all Americans of the conservation work done by Ducks Unlimited.

Abraham Lincoln said our government is one "... of the people, by the people, for the people ..." What that means is that citizens of the United States of America are subjects of no government, but rather the government is directed to follow the desires of those governed and represent the views of the majority, as well as protecting the views of the minority. As such, it is of paramount importance that each citizen exercise our right to redress our government and be heard. That's where you as Ducks Unlimited members, volunteers, and supporters come in. We need you to let members of the House and Senate, as well as the White House, know how important the conservation programs in government are to you, and how much they contribute to the well-being and value system of our country. Each of the habitat projects we perform is estimated to benefit 700 to 900 species. It isn't about hunting; it is about clean water and ensuring that there are populations of wildlife and the habitat to support them, for all to use, regardless of how they choose to use them.

By actively engaging in the education of our elected officials, we are carrying out both the legacy and responsibility that comes with being a citizen of this great nation. Over the next 12 months we will be dealing with legislative issues that are essential to our success. Discussions will begin on the next Farm Bill. Reauthorization and funding of NAWCA are challenging and ongoing. Helping our partners in the state wildlife agencies receive adequate funding to operate. All of these are imperative, including our own needs. Approximately half of the funding we raise each year for conservation comes from the public sector: federal, states, and foundations. We cannot let up for a second. The natural resources that belong to all of us depend on our determination. 

Together, I know we can succeed. But it will take all of us working as a team. Let's get it done! Go Team DU!

Dale Hall, 
Chief Executive Officer