Fall has arrived in the Great Plains, with both temperatures and leaves dropping and migrating waterfowl on the move. The central part of our region continues to be very wet from North Dakota to Kansas, which will provide quality habitat for the fall migration, and set the stage for another strong breeding effort in the spring.
Major gift fundraising and events were strong for the Great Plains Region (GPR) in fiscal year 19 (FY19). Staff and volunteers surpassed event fundraising goals by raising nearly $5.7 million in unrestricted funds, with particularly successful years in Montana, Kansas, Colorado and North Dakota. Exceeding the FY19 stretch goal is remarkable, given the fact that flooding throughout the region coincided with events scheduled in affected communities. Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers both in and outside the region rallied to overcome these obstacles with an impressive team effort.
At the recent National Leadership Conference in Memphis, Josh Williams was named GPR/Region 2 Regional Director of the year, for his work in Kansas and eastern Colorado. Josh has been a consistent high performer since he began his career with DU seven years ago. Josh’s energy and passion for DU’s mission has allowed him to be very successful in a large geographic region.
The development team is busy planning events, project tours and major donor hunts this fall. To celebrate the success of DU’s $2.3 billion Rescue Our Wetlands campaign, several dedication events recognizing major sponsors were held throughout the region during the past several months. Great DU supporters, including Bruce Posey, John Cooper and Hazard Campbell, are among the individuals who have made our work possible. New fundraising initiatives include renovation of Cheyenne Bottoms in Kansas, and a dedicated wetlands conservation fund in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin. Of course, DU’s work in the prairies continues to be a top priority, with plans to invest more than $10.5 million in major gifts there in fiscal year 2020 (FY20).
The conservation delivery team had another strong year, exceeding stretch goals in both impacted acres and public revenue. Our portfolio of conservation programs remains popular with landowners and we continue to refine our targeting to get the greatest biological returns in our highest priority landscapes. We enhanced our policy team with the addition of Ryan Taylor to the GPR. A rancher from Towner, North Dakota, and a former North Dakota state senator, Ryan will be focusing his efforts on the prairie states and will be a great asset as we continue to work with the agricultural community in the region.
Please take time to enjoy the fruits of your labors this fall. The entire Great Plains Ducks Unlimited team is proud of the success of the past year – we plan to carry forward this momentum into FY20 and beyond.