Courtesy of Michael Nolan

Michael's springer spaniel Mojo's Joey Two Dots won the 2022 English Springer Spaniel National Open Championship. As with many DU supporters, involvement in the outdoors led Michael to a lifelong commitment to conserving our natural resources.

A Love of Hunting and Dogs Sparks a Passion for Conservation

"This is a lot of fun; this is a good group of guys." Those are the words that set Michael Nolan's Ducks Unlimited journey in motion. The words came from his first sergeant, who introduced Michael to Ducks Unlimited when Michael was serving as company commander for the 101st Airborne. Today, Michael is looking back on more than 40 years of involvement with Ducks Unlimited.

It was Michael's military service that led him to the coast of New Hampshire, where he oversaw Army recruiters and where he developed a love for bird hunting. Michael didn't know anyone in New Hampshire, but he found camaraderie and lifetime friendships within the New Hampshire Ducks Unlimited community. At that time, the DU state chair leaned on Michael for help at various local events. Michael was anxious to help and do what he could to build upon the groundwork laid for the state's event system. In time, his involvement grew, which set him on the path to become the state chair twice. During this period, his enthusiasm for upland and waterfowl hunting also grew, and every October he spent a week hunting the prairies of North Dakota.

His appetite for hunting led to a love for hunting dogs. Michael started out owning an English setter named Lady Gwendolyn. Then, a good friend introduced him to springer spaniels, which can be strong waterfowl retrievers (Lady Gwendolyn wasn't a fan of the water). His first springer, Serge, was so solid in the field that Michael was inspired to own multiple springers over the years, some being Serge's relatives. "They're just such versatile dogs. They thrive in both upland and water retrieve scenarios," Michael says. In fact, his prized springer Mojo's Joey Two Dots won the 2022 English Springer Spaniel National Open Championship in Austin, Minnesota, in 10-degree weather.
Michael's passion for his dogs directly correlates to his passion for conservation. Initially, his involvement with DU was due to his love of bird hunting. With time, his desire to conserve the birds' habitat outweighed his desire to hunt. His biggest drive now is ensuring that his grandchildren can have the same kinds of outdoor experiences that he has enjoyed. He recognizes the impact that Ducks Unlimited has on important wildlife habitats, which is why DU has been and always will be at the center of his philanthropic giving. Michael is a DU President's Council member and Heritage Sponsor. "Supporting Ducks Unlimited is about building a legacy. It's about the future. DU does a really good job with the funding that's entrusted to them, and that is what is valuable to me," Michael says.