Held July 18-20, the Ducks Unlimited Georgia State Convention and Volunteer Recognition Event bestowed a second-place award to the Bartow chapter for its flight, co-chairs Sarah Tonsmeire and Mark Worthington were named as the Area Chairmen of the Year for North Georgia and Tonsmeire herself won the State Chairman’s Award.
Tonsmeire said the State Chairman’s Award was the “highest honor” for Georgia Ducks Unlimited and she was pleased with the Bartow chapter being named second place in its flight, as local fundraising efforts were so successful it pushed the chapter into a larger flight.
Which flight a chapter places in, Worthington explained, depends on a combination of fundraising, attendance and participation.
“We have advanced one flight in the state competition and placed second in that. The year you move up is quite a feat,” he said.
Attributing the chapter’s success to both Ducks Unlimited members and area businesses, Tonsmeire and Worthington thanked business leaders and donors for their support. Now they are looking forward to the chapter’s annual banquet.
Tonsmeire said the banquet will be held Thursday, Sept. 25, at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. Tickets for the event are $70 apiece, or $90 for a couple, with a Ducks Unlimited membership included in the ticket price. Flavorful Events will cater the banquet, with a wide variety of food available, Tonsmeire said, with oysters on the half shell among the offered dishes. Raffles and silent auctions will be held during the banquet as well.
Approximately 300 attend the banquet, which is now in its 39th year.
“I’m very excited about it,” Worthington said. “It’s coming together quite well. We’re actually on target for ticket sales right now. Our merchandise package is the best I’ve seen in years. So, yes, it should turn out to be a great event.”
Funds raised during the banquet, as well as other events, go toward conservation efforts. Tonsmeire estimated the national Ducks Unlimited organization spends approximately $6 million in Georgia. However, she said the main focus for the national organization was the conservation of duck nesting and breeding grounds.
Worthington said funds from Ducks Unlimited are sometimes matched by other organizations.
“It varies from year to year, but we’re right around .86 to .88 cents out of every dollar actually goes in the ground. The money is matched by various other organizations, including the National Wildlife Foundation, so on and so forth ... and some of the money stays in Georgia. But our focus is what we call the breeding grounds, which is in the upper Midwest ... where the ducks actually do the breeding and nesting,” he said.
Tonsmeire believed Ducks Unlimited and the banquet event are “not just for duck hunters,” but for anyone interested in conservation. Worthington agreed.
“Anybody that’s interested in conservation and making sure that the skies are full of ducks, not just for hunting but for viewing and photography, and you know the swamps in this country are the water filters of our groundwater system,” Worthington said. “Conserving these wetlands benefit all wildlife. It’s not just the ducks. So anybody who’s got a concern for wildlife, wildlife conservation and water conservation should try to make an effort to attend.”
Banquet tickets are available online at http://www.ducks.org/georgia/events/34580/cartersville-dinner. For more information on the Cartersville-Bartow County Ducks Unlimited chapter, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CartersvilleDucksUnlimited.