The Wa-Nee Chapter of Ducks Unlimited as at a crossroads two years ago when the RV manufacturing industry came to a crashing halt in the Nappanee, Wakarusa and Elkhart communities of Indiana. The Wa-Nee DU committee (consisting of DU members in Nappanee and Walkarusa, Ind.) took a long, hard look at whether or not their annual dinner banquet could be pulled off in the depressed economy.
"The Wa-Nee Chapter had traditionally held very successful events, but had seen the decline in attendance and grassroots income in the last five years," said DU Regional Director Dave Neal. "In light of this, I approached the committee about possibly joining with several individuals from the Elkhart Chapter, who had been experiencing some of the same economic impacts."
The Wa-Nee committee felt that there were still many dedicated DU supporters in their communities and they understood that they should continue to give the people what they wanted—DU!
In 2009, the Wa-Nee and Elkhart chapters joined forces and held their very own "Bail-Out" Banquet led by Area Chairman Ron Menzie. They were able to increase their attendance by more than 30 supporters, and their grassroots income increased exponentially from the previous year. But they didn't stop there.
The newly formed Wa-Nee/Elkhart committee was dedicated to reversing the downward trend, and their momentum carried them into the 2010 fundraising season. Their 2010 banquet was an even bigger success, with more than 80 additional attendees and 13 new sponsors.
"It's as if there is a new life among the Wa-Nee Chapter, and it shows," said Neal.
They are currently planning a new Greenwing fishing event in September and a ladies' event in October. The Wa-Nee Chapter is truly deserving of this month's chapter spotlight due to their continued growth and perseverance to conserve wetlands and waterfowl habitats for future generations to enjoy.