SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University students interested in wetlands conservation recently formed what is now the only active student chapter of Ducks Unlimited in the state.
The group is the latest in a tradition of clubs on campus formed by students interested in the outdoors and in ways of preserving it, following in the footsteps of LSSU student groups such as Beta Sigma/Biology Club, Environmental Awareness Club, Students Expanding Environmental Knowledge (SEEK) and Fisheries and Wildlife Club.
LSSU DU, formed late last fall, is led jointly by Eric Smith, president, a senior studying fisheries and wildlife management from Ottawa, Ont. and Kristen Spalding, committee chair, a sophomore from Thompsonville majoring in sports and recreation management. The chapter has been meeting regularly since the end of the fall semester and is gearing up for its first banquet on March 28.
"LSSU has the only active DU university chapter in Michigan," said Lloyd Wilson, Ducks Unlimited Regional Director for North Michigan. "There is a campaign within DU to promote university chapters. We – and I mean all conservation groups, not just DU – need to get the younger generation involved in the conservation arena. This will be for the health of our organizations in the long term. These folks will graduate from LSSU and move on. We're hoping that wherever they land, they will carry the DU torch."
Dinner programs, featuring door prizes, auctions and raffles, are a mainstay for DU and its programs. Largely through grassroots efforts, the 71-year-old organization has grown to nearly 775,000 members in North America. The members raise more than $150 million annually for wetlands conservation. More than 84 percent of the funds raised are used for habitat preservation. Since its inception, DU has conserved more than 12 million acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat.
In Michigan, DU has spent more than $19 million on nearly 1,400 projects, including 67 projects in Chippewa County that have created, enhanced or restored 4,695 acres of wetlands habitat. The total includes several hundred acres in projects on public and private lands around the Munuscong Bay watershed.
The LSSU group is being assisted by Wilson, longtime DU District Chairman Gary Kay of Sault Ste. Marie, who is an LSSU alumnus, and wildlife artist and DU leader Dan Heuer of Brimley. Other student officers include: Chad Krumnauer, vice president, a senior from Vassar majoring in wildlife management; Ben Zoppa, committee co-chair, a junior from Rockford majoring in fire science and chemistry; Pat Brickel, treasurer, a senior from Saginaw majoring in wildlife management; and Jessie Kamps, secretary, a junior from Wyoming, Mich., majoring in fisheries and wildlife management. Campus advisors to the club are biology professor Jason Garvon Ph.D. and Tom Pink of LSSU's Public Relations office.
"The chair and co-chair are needed for the DU component of the organization, and the president and vice president are needed for us to be recognized on campus as an official club," said Smith, explaining the number of officers and their positions. "Basically, I am the liaison with the university and Kristen is the liaison with Ducks Unlimited."
"I am really looking forward to having our first DU banquet," said Spalding. "Being chairman for this chapter is a real honor. My dad, Brett Spalding, has been involved with the Benzie County DU chapter for around 13 years, so I have grown up going to these banquets and watching my dad put them together. I am looking forward to following in his footsteps and carrying on the tradition."
"There is a lot of enthusiasm in the group, and we're glad to be getting guidance from Lloyd, Gary and Dan," said Smith. "They are excited to see this chapter get started and with their help we know it will be a success."
Club members have been meeting weekly in preparation for the banquet, and have been soliciting community businesses, groups, organizations and individuals for prizes and support. Ticket prices are $25 each or $45 for a couple. Dinner ticket packages and raffle ticket combinations are still being put together. The club is inviting students of all majors, as well as LSSU alumni and members of the public to join as charter members.
For more information, contact Garvon, firstname.lastname@example.org, 906-635-2471; Pink, email@example.com, 906-635-2315, or Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 231-627-5965. –LSSU-