Ducks Unlimited conservation leader receives international NAWMP award

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – March 22, 2012 – Ducks Unlimited Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt received the North American Waterfowl Management Plan's (NAWMP) International Canvasback Award last week for his significant long-term contributions to the implementation of NAWMP's conservation activities throughout North America. Schmidt was presented the award during a March 16 breakfast ceremony at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta.

Schmidt began his current position as DU's chief conservation officer in 2011, following his retirement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) after more than 20 years shaping NAWMP's future and cutting a path for the success of waterfowl population management across the continent.

"After so many years working for the future of waterfowl through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, I am honored to receive this award from my respected friends and colleagues in conservation," Schmidt said. "My experience with NAWMP has given me the opportunity to collaborate with some of the greatest minds in waterfowl and wetlands conservation, and I look forward to the continued success of this program and all the people who have contributed to it."

Schmidt began his career in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978 at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. After serving in a number of positions in the refuge program (including seven years in Alaska) he assumed the position of chief of migratory bird management with FWS in 1993, overseeing the science program, hunting regulation and other matters pertaining to migratory birds. In that role, he demonstrated the value of collaboration in the conservation community.

"Paul showed a commitment to the partnership processes that define cooperative waterfowl management, and the determination to do the right things for the long-term stewardship of the resources under his purview," Dr. Mike Anderson of Ducks Unlimited Canada wrote in Schmidt's award nomination letter. "Tough-minded but fair with contentious issues, Paul could be counted on to broker the best possible outcomes for wildlife and people."

As chief of migratory bird management, Schmidt oversaw the creation of special measures to deal with burgeoning numbers of mid-continent white geese and their destructive impacts on Arctic ecosystems. He also helped launch the Adaptive Harvest Management program, designed to help FWS, the states and the Flyway Council use the best available science to factor in uncertainties and improve learning when setting waterfowl-hunting regulations for the year.

Schmidt co-chaired the Arctic Goose Joint Venture, as well as the NAWMP Committee for six years. Schmidt helped lead the committee through the broadening of the plan's vision to include conservation of whole landscapes, larger partnerships and stronger science.

Before his retirement from FWS as the assistant director, migratory bird program—a position he'd held since 2003—and transition to Ducks Unlimited, Schmidt led the NAWMP Plan Committee and FWS into a fundamental effort to rejuvenate the plan, 25 years after its inception.

"Paul has either been engaged personally, or has provided essential support at a senior level in the USFWS, for every progressive initiative under NAWMP in the past 20 years," Dr. Anderson said. "It is precisely for this kind of long-term, high-level leadership of NAWMP that the International Canvasback Award was created. There is no one on this continent more deserving of this honor than Paul Schmidt."

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. 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. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with us on our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at and watch DU videos at

Emily Havens
(901) 758-3851