“Sportsman’s Night Out”

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

The Grand Lake Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be hosting their 43rd annual “Sportsman’s Night Out” at the Celina Eagles Lodge on Saturday, November 18, 2017. This is just one of the 4000 plus DU events held across the country every year. And like most of the others, it’s organized and run by a hard-working core of volunteers who year after year go through the hoops to make sure their attendees have a good time while donating money to a special cause. Although just a local one-night event, it’s still important in DU’s grand scheme of things and part of a yearly process that gives 56,000 volunteers the opportunity to draw in 564,000 attendees who will donate in some fashion almost $60 million dollars. That’s a lot of money but only represents roughly 25% of DU’s total revenue used to fulfill its mission: habitat conservation.

It’s always hard to decide where to donate money. It’s a value judgement based on what we think is important. For most of us on limited budgets, at some time we need to choose where our money goes and our choices never need to be explained or apologized for. Personally, I think any money we throw DU’s way is money well spent. First, more than 80% of DU’s funds are spent on wetlands and waterfowl conservation education, both important to fulfill DU’s mission. Three percent of the money generated is directed to administration and human resources. Many people think that even this small percentage is too much to spend on salaries and the like. I have a tendency to think that good administration makes things better. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch both good and bad administrators work. It doesn’t take long to see who makes the grade and who doesn’t. The DU executives I’ve known have always been top-drawer individuals and advanced the goals of the organization they worked for.

Another thing I like about DU is that there are many checks and balances on how money is spent and projects selected. Federal and state habitat support along with nongovernmental partnerships provide 35% of DU’s income and their vested interests help maintain the stability and focus of the organization. DU is big business that takes a lot of money to run and quality leadership to maintain focus. In 2016, DU conserved more than 226,000 acres of habitat adding to the 13.8 million acres across North America.

Since the 1700’s, more than half of all wetlands in the lower 48 states have been destroyed. Ohio has lost 90% during the same time period. DU initiated a Rescue Wetlands campaign in 2015 with the goal of raising $2 billion dollars to help restore, preserve, and conserve remaining wetlands. Restoring wetlands is a challenge for obvious reasons. Locally, I believe that DU played a role in the construction of almost 40 acres of new wetlands at the Mercer Wildlife Area. In terms of preservation, for example, projects are always being developed to keep the boreal forests pristine and wild. Conservation calls for the scientific planning and control, in some fashion, of remaining, dwindling wetlands. This ambitious program ends in December 2018 and the goal is expected to be met.

I’ve often heard people say that supporting local fundraisers like DU, Pheasants Forever, Wild Turkey Federation, and others is a waste of money since it won’t benefit them personally. I can’t say you will shoot more ducks, pheasants, turkeys, or elk for that matter, by donating to local chapters of these conservation organizations. That’s immaterial. On the other hand, the wetland addition at the Mercer County Area can’t hurt. The point is that you’re supporting a philosophy that is good for your sport and good for the country as a whole. As always, you determine what’s important and what’s not.

Regardless, the “Sportsman’s Night Out” that Grand Lake DU is putting on should be one of the premier conservation events in the area. Those who have attended in previous years know the drill. Good food and drink, comradery, raffles, silent and live auctions, and more make the evening interesting and enjoyable. Plus, the money you spend goes to a good cause, something you’ve already determined. Tickets are $80 per couple and $55 for a single. You can become a Bronze Sponsor with a $300 donation and receive a one-year membership in DU, two dinner tickets, a sponsor print, and a two-for-one coupon on selected raffles. Bronze sponsorships conserve one acre of wetlands. You can buy tickets online at www.grandlakedu.com. For more information call: Mike Bowers@ 419-305-5021, Jack Thein@ 937-657-3720. JD Keithley@ 419-790-4033, Daleen Keithley@ 419-852-4880, or Dave Armour@ 419-733-5854.