Ducks Unlimited (DU) was recently honored by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS) with the Friend of UF/IFAS Award at the establishment's annual Dinner of Distinction for its work on the DeLuca Preserve.

In late 2020, DU partnered with UF to set up a conservation easement on property donated by Elizabeth DeLuca. The conservation easement is the largest in DU's history, and the first for the organization in the state.

"The DeLuca Preserve presents a unique opportunity for collaboration between Ducks Unlimited and the University of Florida," said Adam Putnam, CEO, Ducks Unlimited. "The university will use the property as a living laboratory for research, public outreach and educational opportunities. DU, through our land trust, Wetlands America Trust, will protect the land in perpetuity, ensuring protection of a critical wildlife corridor between the Kissimmee Prairie State Preserve and the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area."

The property, along with other state and federal lands, comprise 250,000 acres of protected areas of the Northern Everglades Headwaters, which is an important ecosystem for wildlife corridors, watershed protection, flood mitigation and endangered species habitat. Livestock grazing is a highly compatible and economically important management strategy on this landscape.

"The nearly 7,000 acres of wetlands on the Property will provide habitat for waterfowl and other wetland dependent species, the property is also home to several different species of wildlife," said Emily Purcell, Director of Conservation Services-South Atlantic, Ducks Unlimited. "Species include red-cockaded woodpeckers, sandhill cranes, northern crested caracaras, Florida scrub-jays, gopher tortoises, burrowing owls, eastern indigo snakes and a rare skink and wildflower. Florida black bears and panthers traverse the property, which also includes vast open wetlands and wet woodlands.

The UF/IFAS holds its annual Dinner of Distinction to show its support of alumni and partners and to highlight the commitment of individuals and organizations to the UF/IFAS mission in areas of teaching, research, and extension.

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About Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit

Media Contact:

Emily Austin