As a self-taught duck hunter born and raised in Minnesota, John Dale joined Ducks Unlimited at the young age of 14. He’s been an avid waterfowl enthusiast, hunter, angler, and conservationist ever since. His wife, Cheryl, also became active with DU early in life, starting one of the first women’s chapters in the Twin Cities area.
“DU and waterfowl conservation have always been a huge part of our lives,” John says. “We try to give back as much as we can.”
As Diamond Legacy Sponsors, the Dales are some of DU’s most ardent supporters, particularly in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States and Canada, where the fall migration begins. John is also a Wetlands America Trust board member.
“You can’t overwinter birds that don’t fly south,” John says. “There are serious threats to habitat across the breeding grounds. The urgency is now, and we need to do more. It’s too cost prohibitive and virtually impossible to bring this unique landscape back, especially at any sizable scale, once all the small productive wetlands are gone.”
Throughout John’s successful 47-year career in finance, he and Cheryl made many wise business investments. They apply those same principles to their philanthropic efforts today.
“We appreciate the fact that DU uses science-based tools and cutting-edge information to guide their conservation programs,” John says. “This ensures the greatest return on investment and wise use of limited resources.”
Recently, John and Cheryl increased their longtime support for DU’s prairie conservation work through a substantial major gift to help advance voluntary conservation easements and promote innovative regenerative agricultural programs. The Dales recognize the value of working in partnership with producers to promote conservation and sustainable agriculture.
“Most of the Prairie Pothole Region is privately owned, so it’s important that we find ‘win-win’ solutions working with agriculture,” John says. “And it’s not an either-or proposition—we can create effective partnerships working with producers to conserve wetlands, promote healthy soils, and sustain profitable agriculture.”
Now enjoying retirement, John and Cheryl spend most of their days at their peaceful cabin in northeastern South Dakota. Having spent a great deal of time in the Dakotas each fall, they cherish this part of the state and now call it their home. They also enjoy traveling, spending time on their ranch in Montana, and relaxing with friends and family.
“We’re extremely humbled and grateful for John and Cheryl’s longtime friendship and generous support,” says Eric Lindstrom, DU’s managing director of development for the Great Plains Region. “It’s because of visionary leaders like the Dales, who have shared their passion and energy with us, that we will see skies filled with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.”