On a fall evening over forty years ago, a few dozen men gathered in their hunting garb for the first ever Grand Strand Chapter Ducks Unlimited Banquet at Ponderosa Campground in Myrtle Beach.
The event was hosted by Dr. Holmes B. Springs who prepared a most excellent mullet stew for the occasion. The men enjoyed much fellowship and modest quantities of adult libations while raising some money for wetlands conservation. I doubt that they gave much consideration to the future greatness that the Chapter they created that night would reach over the coming decades.
The Grand Strand Chapter was recently recognized as the #22 Chapter (out of almost 4000 in the USA) for raising almost one hundred thousand dollars for wetlands conservation in 2007.
At the recent South Carolina State Convention in Charleston, the Chapter also won awards for the #1 Sponsor Chapter in the State, the #1 Greenwing (Youth) Chapter in the State and best large event profitability by virtue of their net to gross dollars ratio. As a result of their overall achievement and general oraganizational merit, the Chapter also received a Presidential Citation.
Back when Dr. Springs was Chapter Chairman the annual banquets were “drakes only” with the overwhelming amount of those attending being avid hunters. Not so now. “Ladies are now most welcome and a great number of our attendees don’t even hunt” said new Chapter Chairman Jonathon Martin. “ They just appreciate what Ducks Unlimited does with the dollars we raise – and they appreciate us throwing the area’s best social event of the year.”
Following are some interesting factoids about Ducks Unlimited:
> DU is continually rated in the top 1% out of over a million non profit charities in the USA.
> DU is rated the #1 conservation non profit organization in the USA.
> DU invests 87 cents out of every dollar raised directly into its mission of saving wetlands and adjacent wildlife habitat.
> DU has conserved over 12 million acres of wildlife habitat on the North American Continent.
> DU originally invested only on the Canadian breeding grounds where over 80% of the continent’s migratory waterfowl are born.
In 1987 the organization began saving wetlands on the wintering grounds as well. Since that time, over 155,000 acres have been preserved in South Carolina – most of it in the coastal plain.
> Over 900 species (mostly non-game) of wildlife benefit from the sanctuary of these DU projects.
The Grand Strand Chapter has two great events planned for this fall:
Ø Greenwing Kids Day at A Dog’s Way Inn in Murrells Inlet on Saturday, November 1. Details may be obtained from Harris Willard at 996-4300.
Ø Annual Fundraising Banquet at SBB 4 Corners on Friday, November 7. Details from Jonathon @ 843-458-0037 or Rick @ 843-457-8126.
MORE DETAILS WILL ALSO BE POSTED AT: grandstrandducks.org.
The Chapter has been “headquartered” in Murrells Inlet for many years now, but event attendees come from all over the Grand Strand and many outlying areas.
There are also Chapters in Hemingway, Georgetown and North Myrtle Beach who perform at a very high level. Efforts are also underway to restart a Chapter in Conway. Folks who are interested in these Chapters events should contact Doug Saunders at 803-622-3743.