DENVER, Colo. – May 23, 2009 – Ducks Unlimited ushered in a new era at its National Convention in Denver this week as delegates elected longtime volunteer John R. Pope of Jacksonville, Fla., as DU's 40th president. Pope will follow in the footsteps of Bruce Lewis, who is now chairman of the board.
"It is a great honor and it is with a great sense of awe that I stand here this morning as your president," said Pope. "I am deeply humbled and promise to lead Ducks Unlimited in the proud traditions of its history and the many men who held this distinction as well."
As president, Pope said he plans to continue DU's progress with its continental campaign, Wetlands for Tomorrow, while bolstering efforts to Rescue the Duck Factory by conserving waterfowl breeding habitat on the prairies. In his acceptance speech, Pope called on DU volunteers to rally around the cause, hearkening back to DU's founding during the Great Depression.
"From its earliest days, this organization has been built on personal relationships and the overall support of its volunteers, who all work for the ducks and their habitat," said Pope.
During his tenure, Pope explained that he plans to emphasize teamwork between staff and volunteers, increase event attendance through recruitment and mentoring and continue to expand DU's involvement in the policy arena. Most of all, Pope says he hopes to help achieve DU's vision "to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever."
Since Pope first joined DU in 1983, he has served as district chairman, state chairman, regional vice president and senior vice president. A University of Florida graduate, Pope, 61, resides in Jacksonville with his wife, Jane, and works as a financial adviser with Raymond James Financial Services.
"This is an exciting time for Ducks Unlimited," said Don Young, DU's executive vice president. "We're fortunate to have a strong cadre of volunteer leaders, and with John Pope at the helm, he will no doubt continue that tradition of excellence. John's knowledge of the organization, married with his passion for the mission and his financial expertise, will serve Ducks Unlimited well over the next two years and beyond."
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature's most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.