Highlights from the 2009 DU National Convention
by Chris Jennings
If you missed DU's 72nd National Convention this year, we've put together some highlights for you. The convention kicked off Thursday, May 20, in Denver, Colo., as members, volunteers and staff converged on the Hyatt Regency Downtown Denver. With the "Mile High" City as the backdrop, waterfowl enthusiasts and conservationists learned about DU's priorities, socialized and enjoyed the camaraderie of other DU supporters.
"This year's convention was excellent and I heard nothing but good things about everything from the meals to the business sessions," said Dr. Alan Wentz, DU senior group manager for conservation, communications and marketing. "As usual, a great time was had by everyone who attended."
This year's convention highlights included a chat with DU officers straight from the duck blind. In a blind built on stage, DU President Bruce Lewis, Executive Vice President Don Young, First Vice President John Pope, Chairman of the Board Dr. Jim Hulbert and former host of DU TV Marc Pierce discussed the state of the organization. The DU officers brought up everything from the future to financials, making the duck blind chat as informational as it was entertaining.
Also highlighting the business sessions were six new conservation videos. These videos covered DU's top priorities, new and exciting partnerships and the organization's overall continental priorities. DU de México (DUMAC) President John Tomke brought to light issues DUMAC faces as they work to conserve wetlands throughout Mexico. DU Canada (DUC) President Neil Downey and Executive Vice President Jeff Nelson spoke about DUC's conservation efforts to the north.
"The conservation videos were extremely educational for our supporters," said Tony Dolle, DU director of communications. "Allowing our members to see the work we are doing across the organization paints an eye-opening picture of the broad scope of DU's impact not just in our backyards but throughout North America."
Young ended the second day's business session with a rousing overview of the past year's positive efforts on behalf of the ducks. He called Bill Buckner, president of Bayer CropScience, on stage to announce the $20 million partnership
Bayer has formed with DU to promote expanding winter wheat production on the U.S. and Canadian prairies.
The convention ended with the annual live auction and gala Saturday night. The auction raised more than $150,000 for DU conservation projects.
Now that the 2009 National Convention has wrapped up, Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers already have begun planning the 73rd installment. Next year's convention will be held in Dallas, Texas. While supporters had a great time in Denver, the crowd sentiment was unanimous: "We'll see ya in Dallas!"