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District Chair-what’s it really mean?

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by Dennis Schaedle
Tennessee DU Chairman

In the past few years, we have attempted to explore and define what the role of the District Chair really should be in Tennessee.  This week, I think I had the chance to witness it first hand and want to share this with each of you.

About 3 weeks ago, District Chairman Jonathan Roland started having an unsettling feeling about the potential outcome of one of the chapters within his district.  Though the desire and spirit to keep the lights on for yet another year was real for the members of the Northwest Tennessee chapter in Union City, their volunteer numbers were limited. 

Rather than cast a blanket of doubt over the event, Jonathan put out a call to other District Chairs, State Leaders, and general volunteers that he knew to come out and help assist with the set up and administration of the event.  If any of you know Jonathan, you know that there is not a negative bone in his body and with his persistent positive outlook, his request sounded more like a challenging adventure to join the existing volunteers in hosting this year’s event than a plea for help. 

Responding to Jonathan’s call to arms, neighboring DC John Hopper put together a crew, Walter Brooks of Oakland took off half a day and drove 2 hours to help, and I had the pleasure of climbing into the trenches with some of DU’s finest in assuring that the battle for our waterfowling heritage would continue in Obion County for yet another year. 

While I can not give you a figure for the total amount of money that was raised, I can assure you that when the sun came up the next morning in Union City, over 65 supporters of Ducks Unlimited went off to work and were reminding some of their co-workers that they missed another quality event to help raise money for the continents waterfowl. 

When you get down to it…isn’t this what it is really all about?  When each of us stepped up to the next level and assumed a higher position, weren’t we doing it to improve on what was already being done in Tennessee?  In the end, is there a greater calling for a District Chair than to assure each and every event from the year before continues for yet another year so that TNDU can grow?  Isn’t that the true legacy we all seek????

Well, I can tell you this, I was proud to see the legacy of Jonathan Roland take affect last night and I am grateful to all of the volunteers that came and made this happen.  Think about the impact that leadership such as this contributes.  If 7 District Chairmen had events that were riding the fence and each of these events averaged $5,000 each, loosing them would cost TNDU $35,000 (and 140 acres of habitat).  However, if these same DC’s chose to hold the line for yet another year, who knows what could come from this?  One thing for sure, there would be the potential for $35,000 to go to the ducks when all was said and done and in my book, that is a $70,000 swing from one outcome to the other! 

So thank you Jonathan, and thank you to everyone else that pitched in Tuesday night, and reminded each of us of what it really means when we step up to the next level to make a difference for North America’s wetlands.
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