While you may have heard about Ducks Unlimited before, you may be unaware of all the great work and information they provide surrounding environmental stewardship and the importance of our wetlands.
Shauna Champagne, Promotional Coordinator for the Cochrane Chapter says Ducks Unlimited is an organization that roots themselves in preserving, conserving and acquiring wetlands to protect the natural habitat for all wildlife as well as providing educational opportunities to the public at large about the importance of protecting our environment. "On a daily basis around 80 acres of wetlands are demolished or are turned into housing. That is a ton and a lot of football fields, so we are really trying to combat that by acquiring as much as we can, preserving it, and allowing people access to it. Whatever land is preserved by Ducks, you can acquire or ask for access to go fishing, hunting, a nature walk, or to take a class out there. We want to try and keep a little piece of green for everybody and keep the habitat alive for the species that use it. "
Helping to raise their profile and gain some funds, Ducks Unlimted hosts a Fundraising Dinner at the Cochrane RancheHouse on an annual basis. Although attendance was down slightly for their April 6th event, they still did quite well, states Champagne. "Normally we have a little bit of a larger crowd but this year we were competing against a couple of other fundraising events, but we still did pretty good. "We had around one hundred people in the room, and we brought in about the same as last year (approximately 12,000 dollars in the clear) with about thirty-three fewer people in the room."
To help with long term sustainability Ducks Unlimited is shifting their focus and concentrating on tomorrow's changemakers. Preparing to launch a national educational program geared towards youth, Champagne says the goal is to mentor young people to get involved in environmental stewardship. "It is super important because we only have one environment, and we need to take care of it. Getting the information to our youth early will really help make a big difference with that."
Excited to see the education program for youth roll out in Alberta by 2020, Champagne says the Cochrane Chapter is also discussing the possibility about getting a local iniative for children up and running as well. With children being much more acutely aware of how our actions today can cause ill effects in the future, Champagne is looking forward, to mentoring youth on how they can help keep organizations like Ducks Unlimited sustainable in the future. "We are looking at the possibility of mentoring a group of children here in Cochrane and teaching them how to start a fundraising event or initiative, and how to hold meetings. While it hasn't come to fruition yet, we are hopeful it will."
If looking after our environment is someting you are pssionate about, there are many ways the local community can get involved. Champagne shares Ducks Unlimited also offers the 'Marsh Keepers' stewardship program which utilizes the help of volunteers to keep our local marshes clean as well as an opportunity to learn about the bio-habitats we have in our area.
Ducks Unlimited Chapters are found all across Canada, the United States as well as South America, Europe, and Mexico.