MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 28, 2011 – Tomorrow Ducks Unlimited will celebrate its 74th birthday, capping off another momentous year for the world's leader in waterfowl habitat conservation. The organization's vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever has remained the same through the years and is reflected across the country from the Gulf Coast to the Prairie Pothole Region.
DU was founded in 1937 during the Dust Bowl era when habitat conditions were very bleak. Before Federal Duck Stamps and other fundraising sources, DU members, among others, raised money to give back to waterfowl habitat and conserve a resource they understood needed protection. The organization has since blossomed into the model of hunter-based conservation organizations, conserving more than 12 million acres and raising more than $3.1 billion for conservation.
Leading up to its 74th birthday, DU celebrated a number of significant milestones during the past year. In May 2010, DU ushered in Dale Hall as its new CEO. Hall, a former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, served 31 years with USFWS. Hall came to DU widely respected as a visionary conservationist and one of the country's most effective wildlife professionals. Shortly after stepping into his role as CEO, Hall led DU's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as DU cultivated solutions for affected coastal habitat.
DU also welcomed Paul Schmidt as its new chief conservation officer. Schmidt is the assistant director for migratory birds with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Set to officially assume his role with DU in April, Schmidt, a 30-year employee with USFWS, will lead DU's national and international conservation programs and serve as a member of the senior executive team.
This past year also marked the successful end of DU's Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign. With more than 80,000 wetland acres disappearing each year, DU set out to answer the challenge through Wetlands for Tomorrow, which set an unprecedented goal to raise $1.7 billion by the end of 2010, making it the largest campaign ever by a conservation group.
The result? More than $1.7 billion raised and more than 2 million acres conserved. "While 2010 marks the end of the campaign, it also ushers in the beginning of a new era for Ducks Unlimited. With new leadership at the helm and a new organizational structure in place, Ducks Unlimited is poised to tackle the imposing challenges facing waterfowl conservation," said Dan Thiel, DU's executive secretary and chief operating officer for DU's Wetland America Trust.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.