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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Conservation, good times come together at Arkansas Greenwing Conservation Camp

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STUTTGART, AR – How do you tell the difference between lesser and greater scaup? The difference between common and red-breasted mergansers? Or how about the difference between a mallard hen and a mottled duck? Many veteran waterfowl hunters might have trouble making the distinctions. But following the 2010 Arkansas Ducks Unlimited (DU) Greenwing Conservation Camp, several teens from across the state shouldn’t have any problem telling the species apart.

2010 Greenwing Conservation Camp
Front (l-r): Buzzy Mourer, Shelby Givens, Dereck Gates, Hunter Grant, Abby Difani Middle(l-r): Laura Ronald, Caty Bussey, Alex Webb, Duncan Bellingrath, Adrienne Difani, Tyler Clement, Sunni Booker (counselor & DU volunteer), Susan Nimmo (counselor & AGFC Private Lands Biologist). Back (l-r): Keith Futrell (counselor & DU volunteer), Bradley Sutton, Garrett Carr, Tom Smalling (counselor and DU State Greenwing Chairman), Erin Cate, Christina Wood, Taylor Horsey, Rich Johnson (counselor & AGFC Wetlands Coordinator), Dusty Rhodes, Chris Lamar, Luke Naylor (counselor & AGFC Waterfowl Biologist), Bradly Harris, Brian Davis (counselor & MSU Assistant Professor of Wildlife), Bob Butler (counselor and DU regional director)

Duck identification was one of numerous programs offered to young waterfowl enthusiasts at the annual Greenwing Conservation Camp, held February 4 – 7 near Stuttgart. Celebrating its 18th year, this year’s gathering welcomed 17 teenagers from Arkansas and two from Canada for four days of in-depth, hands-on education about waterfowl conservation.

The Arkansas campers were nominated by Ducks Unlimited volunteers representing the 13 volunteer districts in the state to take part in the unique camp. The two Canadian teens were chosen to represent DU Canada after participating in the Great Greenwing Adventure held annually near Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The camp is a collective effort by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation (AGFF) and volunteers and staff of Ducks Unlimited in Arkansas. AGFC Commissioner George Dunklin and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones donated the use of their hunting lodges for this year’s camp.

“The camp helps establish or strengthen an enduring impression of wildlife conservation and DU’s efforts, not only in the campers, but their parents and friends who they tell about their weekend at the camp,” said Dr. Brian Davis, Assistant Professor of Wildlife at Mississippi State University and former Ducks Unlimited regional biologist. “They learn and see first hand how DU and the AGFC promote wetland and waterfowl conservation, and that our collective mission is not only focused and accomplished through hard work, but that it can be fun and fulfilling at the same time. Our Greenwings are the future sportsmen and sportswomen of Arkansas, flag bearers of waterfowl conservation and volunteers of Ducks Unlimited.”

Campers learned about basic biology and management of waterfowl, wetlands ecology, waterfowl identification, hunting safety and ethics, retriever training and many other valuable activities. At times, the camp can seem like a rigorous high school biology class, but one that students acknowledge as fun and extremely rewarding.
The camp included numerous activities such as field observation of ducks and geese, collection and identification of aquatic invertebrates and field trips to various wetlands ecosystems.

“The young waterfowlers also received hands-on experience in such areas as waterfowl identification through slide presentations and trips to Halowell Reservoir at Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area and surrounding wetland systems,” said Luke Naylor, AGFC Waterfowl Coordinator. “Campers also took part in constructing five wood duck boxes, one of which will be put up at Halowell.”

The Greenwing Conservation Camp, conducted each year since 1992, seeks teens between the ages of 15 and 17 and was developed to strengthen DU’s youth outdoor education efforts. Prospective teens are identified by a DU volunteer to attend the free camp.

Not only do the teens leave the camp with a greater understanding of the importance of waterfowl and wetlands throughout North America, they also form lasting friendships with fellow campers.

This year, two campers were selected to attend the week long 2010 DU Canada Great Greenwing Adventure near Winnipeg, Manitoba in August. Winners of the Canada trips are Caty Bussey of DeWitt and Adrienne Difani of Pocahontas. Alternates are Alex Webb of Marion and Dusty Rhodes of Gentry.

To learn more about the Arkansas Greenwing Conservation Camp, contact Bob Butler bbutler@ducks.org  or Jeff Lawrence jlawrence@ducks.org  or any of the volunteer district chairmen (click here for by district volunteer contact listings).
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