Incentive to make Montana a million-dollar state

Montana volunteers at the 2019 DU National Convention celebrate their $1 million goal.

© Ducks Unlimited

Montana volunteers at the 2019 DU National Convention celebrate their $1 million goal.

Ducks Unlimited Senior Regional Director Barry Allen and DU Director of Development Chris Hildebrandt say raising $1 million for Ducks Unlimited in Montana is a great reason to shave your head. 

"We wanted to get the volunteers charged up to accomplish a goal we have never reached before," said Allen. "We thought if we were willing to sacrifice our hair, our volunteers and supporters would be willing to give their time and donations to the effort." 

The challenge was set in 2016 and the volunteers kicked their fundraising into high gear during the following three years. Allen worked with local volunteers and made sure all 50 DU events in Montana ran efficiently despite any hurdles. Some events only had three or four people on the planning committee, and Barry traveled to these places to ensure each event was a success.  

Montana State Chair Scott Johnson saw making Montana a million-dollar state as an achievable challenge that he could help make happen. He traveled across the state with his mom, Shirley Johnson, attending events and rallying volunteers.

"My mom and I attended 32 events in 18 months. This gives us an opportunity to spend time together and interact with other volunteers who are as passionate about DU as we are," said Johnson.

During fiscal year 2019, Montana was number one in the nation for Sealed Bid Auction (SBA) fundraising. Two outstanding state chapters, Bitterroot, led by Johnson, and Bozeman, led by Gordon Haugen, were number one and number three, respectively, in the nation for SBA fundraising.  

"We had a big gain during the first year toward our million-dollar goal, but last year we fell short by $35,000," said Hildebrandt. "We reached our goal in June. Never before, in DU has a state with a population of a million or fewer people ever achieved raising a million dollars and our volunteers and supporters helped us get there."

When John and Alexandra "Alex" Spizziri finalized their benefactor gift at the 2019 DU National Convention in Hawaii, it put the state over the top. John and Alex are long-time DU members and supporters. John served for two years as state chair in New Jersey and became a member of the Montana State Council when they moved to Montana five years ago. 

"I have always been an outdoors person and I enjoy the environment. I support Ducks Unlimited because I like the the work they do and their conservation goals," John Spizziri said. 

Hildebrandt and Allen will shave their heads at the Montana Volunteer Celebration on February 8 to fulfill their promise and mark Montana’s success in reaching the $1 million goal. The celebration in Bozeman is open to all DU volunteers in the state, free of charge. 

Go to www.ducks.org/Montana/events for more information about the celebration. 

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