Bringing up the next generation of waterfowlers and ensuring a bright future for their sporting heritage are at the heart of Tom Dunkin's support of Ducks Unlimited. "My son started hunting with me when he was 8 and my grandson started when he was 11 - it has made hunting very special for me," Tom said. "I have been hunting for 50 years, and it is the sport that drew me to DU's conservation work. It ensures that everyone gets to enjoy this special resource."
While attending the University of Washington in the 1960s, Tom hunted ducks in the Skagit Delta, north of Puget Sound. After years of seeing fewer and fewer ducks, he and a partner took matters into their own hands and established French Creek Hunt Club in Snohomish. Thanks to eight years of hard work, the club now boasts 1,000 acres of productive, well-managed wetland habitat for Washington waterfowl.
Tom recognizes that many of the birds he sees at French Creek would not return each year if it weren't for DU's conservation work. So he took another major step in his commitment to the future of wetlands and waterfowl by becoming a Heritage Sponsor through DU's Wings and Wetlands Initiative. "DU does the best job of any conservation organization I've ever seen," Tom explained. "Saving wetlands is an absolute necessity. Several hundred thousand birds used our French Creek property last year - that is going to be my legacy."
The Wings and Wetlands Initiative spans Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, an area known for its long history of outdoor traditions, and Tom wants to preserve this important heritage. "I was profoundly affected by a moment on the Mississippi Pool on the York River in Quebec, Canada," he remembered. "The guide told me that, where I stood, men had been fishing for Atlantic salmon for several hundred years. It made me want to do something to make sure that would be true for waterfowl and waterfowl hunters in Washington State for several hundred years to come."
As he finishes his fifth year as chairman of the Seattle DU committee, which has spent many years leading the pack as part of DU's Top 100 and President's Elite, Tom has definitely done something profound for the ducks and for the future of Pacific Northwest sporting traditions.
"I have been obsessing from my earliest days about leaving something for my children, and something I didn't consider: all eight of my grandchildren!" Tom said. "When I took one of my grandsons out for his last season as a youth hunter, I knew I'd started building a legacy they will all carry on for generations to come."
Tom's story was featured in the 2013 Ducks Unlimited Annual Report. If you would like to learn more about supporting DU's Wings and Wetlands Initiative, please visit www.ducks.org/WingsAndWetlands or call DU at (360) 885-2011 to speak with fundraising staff in your area.
For more information on becoming a DU Major Sponsor, please visit our Leadership Giving homepage or contact Senior Manager of Development Operations Anita Tyler at (901) 758-3871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.