Spring 2020 EPlains News Director Message

Directors Message – By Johann Walker, Great Plains Region Director of Operations 

Spring has returned to the Great Plains. Robins are building nests in my neighborhood and lines of geese and ducks are passing overhead on their way to the nesting grounds. Water is running across the landscape. Snow isn’t sticking to the ground like it did in February. Days are longer and warmer. Things are greening up.

Despite the familiar sights and sounds of spring, it’s quiet around the Bismarck Ducks Unlimited office, the Fort Collins office and the Grand Island office. The COVID-19 pandemic has us working from home and has closed a good portion of the economy. Prolonged social distancing is needed to slow the spread of the virus and ensure we have the medical resources to protect our most vulnerable neighbors. As a result, Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains Region team is working to raise funds and deliver conservation under the most challenging conditions any of us can remember.

During the past three weeks, many of us have transitioned to working from home. The conservation team trimmed costs from the budget and focused on invoicing and fieldwork that can provide income. The event fundraising team initiated online raffle and auction fundraisers. The policy team is working with state and federal contacts remotely to discuss potential legislation that will impact conservation. The development team continues to talk to donors and secure major gifts. These efforts are paying off. I’m thankful for the adaptability, creativity and drive of my colleagues in the GPR. Although we’ve got a tough and uncertain road ahead, this energy and teamwork keeps me optimistic. 

I’m excited to be the director of operations in the Great Plains Region during this challenging time. I’m grateful to be working alongside high-quality staff, volunteers and partners in a landscape that means so much to DU’s mission. It’s a difficult time, but we’ll get through it. We’ll adapt, we’ll recover and we’ll grow. People like us will be working together to make a bright future for people, wetlands and waterfowl for generations to come.