For the Ducks: 2020 Vision

A message to Team DU

Michael Furtman
Adam Putnam, Ducks Unlimited CEO

We begin this New Year with pants fitting a little more snug after the holidays and—even more detrimental to the waistline—another season of duck camp cuisine. For this we give thanks for the generous fit of waders, whose silhouette doesn’t carry the same judgment of, say, blue jeans.

I hope you and your family have enjoyed safe and happy reunions these past couple of months inside around a tree, and outside among the trees, prairies, marshes, and other habitats we cherish and work to conserve. These are the special moments of the year, when stories are passed down from generation to generation around a fire in a timeless, primal tradition. New shotguns make their debut in the blind as Christmas gifts or raffle prizes. Spouses looking to meet their own resolutions to declutter the home offer to send other “winnings” from fall DU banquets to the camp. “Wouldn’t this look nice . . .” Left unspoken is “somewhere, anywhere but here.”

Here at the DuckQuarters, January is the midpoint of our fiscal year but the symbolic start of a renewed commitment to our mission, goals, and objectives for a new calendar year. As recent science has shown, we have lost around a third of all birds in 50 years, but, thanks to our work, waterfowl populations have rebounded. While other conservation and civic organizations struggle to hold members, our numbers continue to tick upward. Our habitat work across the continent continues to expand, even as the cost of doing business does too.

Our annual goals are summed up in three words: mud, money, and members.

Mud: We move dirt. We conserve, restore, impact, and protect habitat in places guided by our science. We don’t just talk about it. We do it.

Money: We raise money to deliver conservation projects on the ground. Events, major gifts, corporate support, estate plans, and public funds like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act all add up to make a difference for generations to come. Fundraising puts coal in the conservation furnace, and we pride ourselves on 80 cents or more of every dollar going to that mission.

Members: We are a grassroots-based organization where volunteers put on 4,200 events last fiscal year to generate dollars for the mission. More than 737,000 current members earn us a loud and credible voice in policy discussions as well.

I’ve had some time in the blind this season to think about where we are and where we are going. We need to continue investments in our future through our high school and
collegiate chapters. They are our future hunters, members, volunteers, and voters. Our event system is second to none and emulated by others. Help us ensure its strength by
succession planning on your own committee.

The habitat important to us is largely owned by farmers and ranchers. Many are our members, and they are our partners in successful conservation projects on working lands. We need them and they need us. We know the work we do across the landscape is good for more than just waterfowl, but not enough corporations, foundations, and fellow citizens know it. We have more to do on this front.

Hindsight may be 20/20, but the year 2020 stretches before us. It’s an opportunity to renew our purpose, sharpen our message, grow our reach, and rededicate ourselves to our vision for wetlands conservation.

Happy New Year, and let’s make our vision for wetlands conservation clear, for all the world to see.

Adam H. Putnam,

Chief Executive Officer

From the January/February 2020 issue of Ducks Unlimited magazine