Only halfway through a four-year challenge grant issued by the Ted and Grace Bachhuber Foundation, DU volunteers
and supporters surpassed their $500,000 goal, ensuring a $1 million investment by the foundation in Wisconsin
's Horicon Marsh. In June 2010, the Bachhuber Foundation announced a potential $1 million grant to DU for habitat conservation
work on this legendary 32,000-acre marsh. The only stipulation was that DU had to raise $500,000 to receive the full investment. With the help of several key volunteers, DU began rallying to secure the necessary funds.
Over a 26-month period, DU volunteers such as Regional Vice President Ron Babros and his wife Lois, Major Gift Co-chairs Jeff Maletzke and Scott Jurk, State Sponsor Co-chairs Mike Ptaschinski and Dave Nett, State Chair Jim Gronowski, and Lead Zone Chairs James Nielsen and Don Jago organized several Diamond fundraising events to fulfill the challenge. A total of about 70 donors helped DU meet this monetary goal.
Among these events was a special tribute dinner for the late Jack Nugent, which supported the construction of a duck blind that is accessible to hunters with disabilities. All additional funds raised at this event went to the challenge.
"The neat thing about meeting this challenge is that there was no lead donor like you might normally have," said Lon Knoedler, an at-large DU board member and "creator" of DU's Diamond event program. "This challenge was met by DU members, local businesses, and other people interested in preserving the Horicon Marsh."
DU hosted a donor thank-you dinner at the marsh in August to celebrate this successful team effort. An official project dedication is planned for a later date. Wetland conservation work on the marsh continues, with a focus on providing the best habitat for waterfowl to utilize and people to enjoy.