For the second year in a row, the Kilgore High School Ducks Unlimited Club has been named the top high school chapter in Texas by the DU National organization. Kristin Pieper and Travis Orms are the faculty sponsors for the club. Sydni Borders Served as president during the spring semester 2016, and Emalie Hanewald served as president during the fall semester.
“We worked five events this year to try to get the championship again,” Hanewald said. “But, after we won it last year, we really wanted to keep it.”
KHS-DU hosted its second annual Ducks Unlimited banquet in April, held a “Hunters’ Night Out” raffle party in early October, and helped with both the Gregg County DU banquet in Longview and the Sabine Valley DU banquet in Gladewater. In November and December, club members sold raffle tickets for a shotgun. Through these events, KHS-DU raised nearly $19,000 for DU’s conservation work.
“The KHS students really worked hard this year,” Pieper said. “And I’m glad that they earned this recognition.”
High school DU clubs throughout the nation raise money to support DU’s conservation work and compete to see which club can generate the most income. The 2016 national champion club, Memphis University School, raised more than $44,000. The clubs and the events they sponsor offer many learning opportunities for the students.
In planning, organizing and hosting their banquet, the KHS students learned marketing skills by selecting merchandise for the live and silent auction and selling tickets and sponsorships for the event. They learned business skills by arranging a contract for the banquet location and menu. They learned interpersonal skills through working as a group to organize the event, set up the facility and manage the meal, the live auction and the silent auction.
“The students worked really hard at every event,” Pieper said. “They showed a maturity and a willingness to work that’s usually associated with an older group. I’m really proud of them.”
KHS-DU is open to any student at Kilgore High School. Anyone interested in joining should contact Pieper or Orms. The club is currently planning its 2017 activities.
According to DU Director of Varsity and Collegiate Activities Mark Horobetz, KHS-DU earned more money in its first two years than any Texas high school DU club has before.
“They really set the bar high for the other clubs,” Horobetz said. “I’m tremendously proud of the job they did, and I look forward to working with them again this year.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest wetland conservation organization. Its mission is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl.
“Right now, wetland conservation is critical. Each year, the United States loses about 800,000 acres of native wetlands,” Pieper said. “That’s more than seven football fields per hour. These wetland areas provide habitat for more than 900 species of wildlife and help curb runoff during flooding.”
Since its founding in 1937, DU has raised more than $2.5 billion, which has contributed to the conservation of almost 13 million acres of wetland habitat throughout the North American continent.