Toledo, OH – July 6, 2006 – During Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) National Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office (GLARO) and the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) received the “2006 Wings of Innovation Award” for their pioneering Ohio Partnership Hunt! The Ohio Partnership Hunt was initiated in 2002 to celebrate DU’s relationship with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, major donors and DU volunteers. In just four years, this event has grown significantly.
Throughout its history, Ducks Unlimited has fostered a sense of community by bridging the gap between volunteers, partners, major donors and staff. The Ohio Partnership Hunt, begun only four years ago in partnership with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, provides an innovative, fresh opportunity to foster relationships within the DU family. Each November, conservation partners, local and national volunteers, regional fundraising and conservation staff, major donors, hunt clubs and waterfowl guides, and local reporters gather in a prime, wildlife-rich location along western Lake Erie for a two-day celebratory hunt. In its brief existence, this event has succeeded in bringing together the many facets of Ducks Unlimited and raised awareness of the habitat conservation needs in western Lake Erie. In addition, because media and outside reporters are present, the event has provided the organization invaluable exposure that has spread awareness of DU’s efforts and brought conservation issues to the forefront of public concern.
According to Steve Gray, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, “The partnership hunt is a great way to showcase the importance of the waterfowl hunting heritage and how duck hunters have contributed to conserving and preserving critical wetland habitat. Ducks Unlimited is a great long-term partner with the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Working together, we have significantly improved waterfowl habitat.”
During the 2002 Partnership Hunt, the Ohio Division of Wildlife announced a $50,000 Heritage Sponsorship to DU. In doing so, they became the first wildlife agency to support Ducks Unlimited at this level. When that commitment was met, the Division upgraded an additional $50,000 to become a Benefactor Sponsor. These gifts are in addition to the $2.6 million of state duck stamp funds that the Ohio Division of Wildlife has given to DU over the years to help fund conservation efforts in Canada through the state grants program.
“This event is truly unique in that it brings together all aspects of the DU family, including great conservation partners like the Ohio Division of Wildlife, local and national volunteers, DU’s fundraising staff, and conservation programs all in one venue,” states Director of the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, Bob Hoffman. “Through this team approach, Ducks Unlimited has embraced the direct and unquestionable connection between fundraising and conservation programs in support of the DU mission.”
During this two-day event in November, relationships are built and maintained, new opportunities are developed, and many positive memories are created, and in the long run have increased DU’s conservation mission.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’ s most productive ecosystems – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.