PIERRE, South Dakota March 9, 2020 Few individuals have influenced South Dakota conservation more than John Coop Cooper. Conservation partners will gather on May 15 to honor John and Vera Cooper at a tribute dinner in Pierre to advance prairie conservation.

John Coopers 43-year career has seen him at the forefront of many conservation initiatives, said Terry Kostinec, Ducks Unlimited director of development for South Dakota and Nebraska. Whenever they need a leader, Coop is their first call.

Cooper served 23 years as a Special Agent of the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service prior to serving 12 years as cabinet secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) under two governors. After he retired, he was Gov. Rounds senior policy advisor on Missouri River issues. Cooper was also a senior policy advisor to the national Bipartisan Policy Center on climate change and wildlife management issues. He previously chaired the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

John continues to be an active volunteer for conservation. He and his wife, Vera, have been major contributors to DU, Pheasants Forever and the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, Kostinec said.

The tribute will raise funds to support the events habitat conservation goals. A cairn honoring the importance of the prairies and major sponsors who contributed to the tribute will be placed at the Odessa Lake Game Production Area in McPherson County. The county is the epicenter of both Ducks Unlimiteds Preserve our Prairies conservation initiative and John Coopers waterfowl hunting and wildlife watching pursuits. Ducks Unlimited partnered with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to enhance and protect this important 450-acre wetland complex.

To register for the dinner and/or make a tribute gift online, visit www.ducks.org/south-dakota/events. All participants will be invited to attend the cairn dedication in Fall 2020.

For more information, visit www.ducks.org and be sure to follow DUs newest Twitter feed - @DUNews1937 to get the most up-to-date news from 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 14.5 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 www.ducks.org.

Media Contact:

Becky Jones Mahlum