Well, it's in the books, and what a tremendous success it was! Ducks Unlimited Inc. celebrated its 75th anniversary national convention
in Nashville, and by all accounts it was the best convention ever. This year's convention drew 1,482 registered participants, besting the previous record of 1,322 set in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1989. Congratulations, and thanks, to everyone who worked so hard to make our national convention a success, and to all who made the journey to take part in the celebration. It was truly one of DU's finest hours.
Convention activities placed significant emphasis on honoring many of the people who have been the heart and soul of Ducks Unlimited over its 75-year history
While I have only been part of the DU family for two years, as a student of history I know how important those who came before us were, and continue to be. And so I was humbled to spend time with all the living presidents of Ducks Unlimited and Wetlands America Trust
at this convention.
Past DU presidents Bob Marcotte, Peter Coors, Hazard Campbell, Harry Knight, Don Rollins, Gene Henry, Julius Wall, L.J. Mayeux, John Tomke, Jim Hulbert, Bruce Lewis, John Pope, and current president John Newman were all there, as was former WAT president Jim Kennedy. They entertained us by recounting something memorable that occurred during each of their presidencies, and Jim Kennedy closed out the convention by announcing that current WAT president John Childs, an anonymous WAT trustee, and he were each pledging $25 million to DU's endowment fund as part of their estate planning! The challenge is now out for others to join the Feather Society
and help double this great effort.
The history and accomplishments
of Ducks Unlimited are truly phenomenal. We will soon surpass the 13-million-acre mark for on-the-ground conservation in North America, and have already partnered with The Pew Charitable Trusts and Ducks Unlimited Canada
to influence the conservation of more than 300 million acres of boreal forest
Our work, however, is far from over.
DU has never been known to rest on its laurels. Instead, we have always used past success as a springboard for more action on the ground, in Congress, on college campuses, and in banquet halls across this continent. Nearly 30 college-age DU members
attended this year's convention, giving us a strong reminder that we are in this for the long haul and need young leaders to help take us into the future. You see, we are already looking toward the next 75 years.
Among other convention highlights was a visit by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who used the occasion to sign the newly revised North American Waterfowl Management Plan
, the joint commitment by the United States, Canada, and Mexico
to manage waterfowl on a continental basis. Also, Pew President and CEO Rebecca Rimel and I signed a partnership agreement to "double down" and finish the job in the western boreal forest, committing $60 million to conserve 1 billion acres while allowing healthy economic development.
These and a number of other challenges remain on the horizon. We accept these challenges gladly because we know that the future begins right now. We will succeed because future generations are depending on us.