Virginia Couple Raises the Bar for Conservation

Rich and Joyce Johnson challenge volunteers to commit themselves fully to the cause of conservation

Virginia was the first of the overseas dominions of England’s royalty. To this day, dedication and commitment are hallmarks of her sons and daughters. One such example within the Ducks Unlimited family has been Richmond residents Rich and Joyce Johnson.

“I like to get involved with good people doing good things for good causes,” Rich says. “To be a good citizen of your community you need to take a role in making sure institutions like colleges, museums, and conservation organizations don’t operate in a vacuum. They will last if concerned people put their time, energy, money, and talent behind them.”

Like many other DU members, Rich was introduced to the organization through a friend’s invitation to a local banquet. He was an enthusiastic target shooter in high school who never had an opportunity to learn to hunt. Joining the Richmond Ducks Unlimited committee gave him an avenue to meet hunters and learn the sport.

DU Senior Director of Development Chip Heaps is a longtime friend of the Johnsons. “Rich is the face of Ducks Unlimited in the Richmond area—in most of Virginia for that matter—and he may be one of the hardest-working people I know,” he says. “He and Joyce are incredibly generous with their time.”

Given all the other worthy organizations out there, why did the Johnsons choose DU? “It was a combination of being attracted to hunting and to what Ducks Unlimited does for conservation,” Rich says. “DU identifies a problem, determines what it will take to fix it, raises the money, and goes out and addresses the issue.”

Rich has held numerous volunteer positions within Ducks Unlimited, from committee chair to DU’s board of directors. What has impressed him most is the power of the local committee to impact conservation efforts. “Two roles that are so critical to what DU does are the area chairman and the state chairman,” he says. “These local leaders influence the state’s structure by managing a network of committed volunteers. They make sure their committees not only present successful events but also have solid plans for the future.”

Rich and Joyce are now DU Legacy Sponsors, and Rich serves as an honorary trustee. Last April, Virginia Ducks Unlimited hosted a tribute event honoring the Johnsons. The event raised over $1.9 million in pledges, Feather Society commitments, and cash for conservation programs and projects across the continent. Rich and Joyce made a commitment to become Grand Slam Legacy Sponsors, the first individuals in history to put this level of support behind all three DU organizations.

Rich challenges his fellow volunteers to commit themselves fully to the cause of conservation: “You will get out of it what you put into it. You don’t need to make a major time commitment, but you owe it to yourself, your children, and your community to put emphasis on making the world a better place.”