Ducks Unlimited

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Jan. 25, 2024 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) has announced its annual Excellence in Conservation Awards, created by DU's Conservation Programs Committee (CPC) to recognize outstanding conservation accomplishments and the staff members who made them possible.

Any extraordinary accomplishment that supports DU's conservation mission of filling the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever is eligible for recognition. The 2023 awards were announced during the CPC winter meeting at Ducks Unlimited’s National Headquarters in Memphis.

"These Ducks Unlimited staff members were recognized for their extraordinary efforts, amazing achievements and careers dedicated to conservation," said DU Chief Conservation Officer Dr. Karen Waldrop. "Every year, we are impressed with the outstanding work of so many dedicated Ducks Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Ducks Unlimited de México staff members. We are proud to announce and commend this year's recipients."

The following 2023 Ducks Unlimited Excellence in Conservation Lifetime Career Achievement Award winners are recognized for sustained, long-term contributions to DU's conservation mission:

Danny Baker

Dan Baker.jpg

Courtesy of Danny Baker

Baker is a surveyor for Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Baker started his DU career in 2010 and provides critical wisdom and assistance to the engineers in the field to ensure correct and efficient designs throughout the South Atlantic Region.

Paula Booker, National Conservation Services Manager

Paula Booker.jpg

Courtesy of Paula Booker

Booker began her DU career 27 years ago as a project coordinator. She now mentors project coordinators throughout the regions.

Jon Schneider, Great Lakes/Atlantic Region Director of Conservation Programs

Jon Schneider.jpg

Courtesy of Jon Schneider

Schneider began career with DU in December 1997. Along with a lengthy list of accomplishments, he was instrumental in developing and launching DU’s Living Lakes Initiative, which encompasses the continentally important Prairie Pothole Region of Minnesota and Iowa.

The following Ducks Unlimited Excellence in Conservation Project/Achievement Awards recognize outstanding accomplishments supporting DU's conservation mission delivery:

Texas Prairie Wetlands Project

  • Taylor Abshier, Regional Biologist
  • Matt Davis, Engineering Technician
  • Jacob Cormier, Engineering Technician


Emily Austin, DU.jpg

Emily Austin, DU


McIntyre Ranch Project

  • Thorsten Hebben, Ducks Unlimited Canada Manager of Provincial Operations
  • Darwin Chambers, Ducks Unlimited Canada Director of Conservation Programs


McIntyre Project.jpg

Ducks Unlimited

The Distinguished Individual Achievement Award honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding performance, contributions or achievements that meaningfully support Ducks Unlimited’s ability to deliver on our conservation mission. The 2023 winner is:

Ed Penny, DU Southern Region Director of Public Policy

Ed Penny.jpg

Courtesy of Ed Penny

Penny worked with other nonprofit organizations, the state wildlife agency and elected officials to establish the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. His leadership has elevated DU in the minds of policymakers, partners and citizens across Mississippi, strengthening DU’s position as the go-to conservation delivery organization.

"Ducks Unlimited has a talented, passionate Conservation team working diligently to succeed in our mission, as demonstrated in our new Conservation for a Continent campaign. These dedicated professionals routinely deliver exceptional conservation results, playing a critical role in accomplishing our goals," said CPC Chair Dr. Christine Thomas. "Each year, the Excellence in Conservation awards program conveys the gratitude of DU's volunteer leadership by highlighting the impressive talent and expertise of the DU conservation staff."

About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetlands, grasslands and other waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has restored or protected more than 16 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science, DU’s projects benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people in all 50 states. DU is growing its mission through a historic $3 billion 
Conservation For A Continent capital campaign. Learn more at