Capitol Hill gala marks historic anniversary, highlights need for strong relationships with legislators

Ducks Unlimited celebrated its 75th anniversary in our nation's capital this week. A crowd of more than 450 came together on Capitol Hill. Legislators from both sides of the aisle offered congratulations and continued support for the organization's mission to conserve wetlands and other habitat for North America's waterfowl.

Speaker of the House John Boehner kicked off the dinner portion of the event with a little humor. "You may not know that I have been a sponsor of the Middletown (Ohio) DU chapter for almost 30 years, so I'm not surprised we had trouble getting you to quiet down and take your seats.

"I hope you'll always remember that you have a partner in the United States House of Representatives," Boehner continued. "Americans have always been defined by their freedom and their love of the outdoors. Thanks to you at Ducks Unlimited. Thanks for all that you've done for American wildlife, and thanks for all you've done for conservation."

Prior to the dinner, DU supporters mingled during a cocktail hour and silent auction. The venue was crowded and the group was excited to celebrate the conservation organization's anniversary in the city where DU was incorporated 75 years ago. At that time, a visionary group of waterfowlers conceived of an organization dedicated to the protection of disappearing waterfowl habitat. The consortium signed the papers of incorporation at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 1937.

As the live auction wound down, DU President John Newman reflected on two days of special events in Washington. "It's truly historic to be in this city 75 years after our organization's birth, but it's just as exciting to look forward to the next 75," he said. "We have a lot to accomplish, and recognizing what we've achieved only makes me more enthusiastic about what's to come."