In 2012, Ducks Unlimited launched its Sportsmen for Tomorrow campaign in North Carolina. The goal was to engage young people in conservation through education and volunteerism. Operating on the belief that the leaders of today have a responsibility to guide those who will take their place tomorrow, Platinum Legacy Sponsors George Henry III and his wife, Susie, made a bold and incredibly generous decision as part of the campaign.
George partnered with North Carolina DU to fund the country's first state-specific youth and education coordinator position, focused on recruiting, cultivating, and empowering the next generation of conservation ambassadors. As a result, the Tar Heel State leads much of the rest of the country in terms of the size and success of its Greenwing, Varsity, and University programs.
"The strides that have been made in DU's youth programs recently are really impressive, and I look forward to their ongoing evolution," George says. "As hunter numbers dwindle and experienced mentors age out, Ducks Unlimited provides a wonderful platform to introduce kids to hunting, conservation, and community. When you think about it, those are the core principles that really drive our passion as adult supporters. It's critical that we continue to encourage and invite children to get out from behind the computer and into the field."
Spotting a prime opportunity for youth engagement presented by DU's partnership with Future Farmers of America, George gave $200,000 to North Carolina DU in 2019 to underwrite youth memberships and fund state-specific conservation projects. The gift will educate roughly 2,500 young people on the value of DU's conservation mission and how it relates to agricultural and land stewardship practices.
"George's generosity supports incredible volumes of work in North Carolina, where many of DU's innovative youth programs were launched," says DU Manager of Youth and Education Programs Mark Horobetz.
George is the third generation of Henrys to proudly manage the family's textile finishing company, Henry Fibers. He and Susie are President's Council members and active volunteers with their local DU chapter in Gastonia, North Carolina. They also are the proud owners of Nightingale Hall Plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina. Located on the banks of the Pee Dee River, the 782-acre plantation was established in 1730, put under conservation easement with DU in 1996, and purchased by George in 2013.
"George's contributions have already laid the foundation for generations of conservationists," says DU Director of Development Will Johnson. "His continued patronage ensures that we can reward and support young men and women who have shown an interest in Ducks Unlimited, habitat, and conservation."