By Josiah Holt
College is a time in your life that can begin to define who you are. It is a time when you will meet lifelong friends and make amazing memories. How you spend your college years is crucial. You can take the easy road and party and focus on yourself or you can spend your time making a difference in an important organization. There are many opportunities in various organizations.
I chose to make a difference by volunteering with Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited, also known as DU, is a non-profit organization whose mission statement focuses on the conservation, restoration, and management of wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. Conserving wetlands has hundreds of advantages for every single person out there. These advantages range from increasing the supply of water, flood reduction, sediment filtration and of course an increase and constant supply of habitat for wildlife. While all these advantages are very important, the most dear advantage to me is having our habitat numbers at a stable level for future generations of women and men who will enjoy hunting.
When stepping foot on a college campus consisting of 40,000 students of different walks of life, finding friends with similar interests can be tough. It can be challenging as a new college student to find people who instantly connect with you. While being apart of Ducks Unlimited in college, I met many of my eventual best friends. In DU, you are guaranteed to have like-minded people who share the same values as you do. Introductions are less awkward as you begin to talk together about your favorite hunting memories when everything went right, or when things did not go so well. Ducks Unlimited meetings are usually preceded by students recapping their weekend while they also enjoy the company of their dogs.
Ducks Unlimited is also a great way to meet mentors in college. The regional director for UGA Ducks Unlimited, Scott James and the Georgia Youth and Education Chairman, Jeff Barnes, were always a just a phone call away. After deciding to commit a good deal of my time in college to volunteering with DU, I quickly realized how much adults in the program loved to help college chapters of DU. Local and national leaders in DU supported our college chapter at events and befriended our committee members. These men impacted our growth as an organization and our growth as individuals.
While the DU culture at different college chapters will be different, the overall mission to preserve wetlands remains the same. I strongly encourage you to get plugged into your local Ducks Unlimited college chapter and be more than someone who just shows up at meetings. Stay after and meet your executive board. Show a true desire to move up in the committee. Strive to be on the executive board one day! As a past president of The University of Georgia Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, I can guarantee you, it will be one of the most satisfying parts of your college career. It was rewarding and fun to see our committee experience incredible growth in attendance at our meetings and attendance at our banquets. We were grateful to see increase in the amount of money raised to support the mission of DU. Our leadership team and members grew strong together as we worked hard to make all this happen.
So I challenge you – Join Ducks Unlimited while you are in college and see for yourself the difference you can make in ensuring sufficient wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.
Josiah is on the MLF Field Pro team and lives in Athens, Georgia. You can follow him on instagram at @josiahholt17