Some of DU’s most inspiring volunteers are members of varsity chapter committees. These young men and women are passionate about supporting conservation, and they are not waiting until they have the individual means to do so. Recognizing that giving of their time is as valuable as giving of their finances, high schoolers around the country are starting varsity chapters and committing their energy to Ducks Unlimited.
Ducks Unlimited realizes these students are the future of conservation and the organization. Led by one of our most passionate volunteers Ronal Roberson, the Youth and Education Committee developed a national scholarship program to return the support these young people have provided the organization.
“The scholarship program was not just created to recognize the outstanding hard work and leadership these young men and women have demonstrated, but to also stress how important they are to the future of DU,” Roberson said. “If we don't invest in our youth we aren’t investing in DU.”
Thomas Crawford Lange, known better as Ford, is graduating from Jackson Preparatory Academy where he chaired the DU committee. “The Jackson Prep DU chapter taught me how to get out of my comfort zone as well as lead others. It has also given me a great network of people that I met,” Lange said.
Chapter advisor Col. William Merrell finds the varsity program provides great leadership experiences for students. “I love our DU Varsity Chapter because it gives Jackson Prep 12 new student leadership opportunities. Our students have shown passion and persistence in building our chapter & annual banquet,” Merrell said.
Having students ranging from 16-18 years old raising more than $10,000 for DU’s conservation mission in one night is a remarkable testament to their efforts.
“It is always amazing to see what these high school students are able to accomplish with hard work and great leadership from leaders like Ford,” said DU Regional Director Hunter Pridgen. “Ford and the other students involved have made their mark on conservation, and we hope to see them continue their efforts with DU through our collegiate programs.”
Ford, who plans to major in finance at Mississippi State University, is the recipient of the $500 Ronal and Patti Roberson Varsity Scholarship.
“This scholarship was important to me because not only did it help me pay for college, but it was satisfying to see the reward of all the hard work,” Lange said.