For Diamond Heritage Sponsors and Diamond Feather Society members John and Patti Larson, it was a passion for food, cooking, and the outdoors that led them to their first Ducks Unlimited event in the late 1990s. Today, the Larsons are two of DU’s most ardent advocates, investing their time and financial support in advancing the organization’s conservation mission throughout their home state of Nevada.
John grew up in an avid hunting family that lived off the land in Northern California. His father taught them to always give more back to society, the environment, and their community than they took out. “Because we grew up sustaining ourselves on wildlife, the culinary aspect was extremely important to me,” John says. “Whether it was duck, elk, sheep, rattlesnake, or even cougar—whatever we were eating had to taste good.”
Despite his hunting roots, John only had a cursory understanding of Ducks Unlimited as a conservation organization two decades ago when a friend in the Reno area, who was an executive chef from Belgium, invited John to his first event—a “drakes only” lunch. “He got to help cook and clean the birds for the meal,” Patti recalls. “And that was it—he was hooked.”
John became a DU member during that lunch and began helping at events in the Reno-Sparks area. He and Patti took over the Carson Valley dinner after a request from the regional director and ended up running the event for eight years, all while Patti wrote articles for the Nevada DU committee.
John would go on to hold several DU volunteer positions, including district chairman, Nevada state chair, and his current position as state treasurer. He is also the current treasurer of the National Continental Shoot, serves on the National Art Committee, and runs DU’s license plate program in Nevada. The Larsons are so committed to Ducks Unlimited that they recently took three weeks off from their RV repair business to drive to Branson, Missouri, to help run DU’s inaugural Eastern Continental Shoot.
“When I think of what a DU member looks like, my mind goes to John and Patti Larson,” says Todd Stoa, director of gift planning for DU’s Western Region. “They are fun to be around and live and breathe DU. They dedicate their time and money to conservation to make our world a better place not only today but tomorrow with their membership in the Feather Society. The legacy they are leaving will make a lasting impact for generations to come.”
John and Patti cite several reasons for their passion for Ducks Unlimited. John says it is the organization’s efficient use of fundraising dollars to produce on-the-ground results. Patti appreciates that DU helps to preserve open spaces for future generations. Both agree that they love being part of the work Ducks Unlimited is doing to conserve wetland habitat for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people across North America.
Picking up a few good duck recipes along the way is a nice bonus.