More than 500 guests attended the Ellis County Ducks Unlimited chapter’s annual banquet and fundraiser Friday evening.

The 16th annual event was held at the Ellis County Expo Center, where those attending could browse the silent and live auction items. There were also several games and drawings to be played for prizes including hunting apparel, guns hunting or fishing trips, paintings and metal crafted artwork

For the food, the guests were served up a buffet of Cajun cuisine that included gumbo, fried shrimp, fried alligator and fish.

Committee chairman John Reagan said the fundraiser should raise in excess of $80,000. Last year, the banquet raised $83,000.

This year’s Life Member award went to Terry and Lora Graham. Terry has been a Ducks Unlimited member since 1997.

“Duck hunting is a sport I really enjoy. Besides the actual hunting, I enjoy working outdoors and training our two (Labrador) dogs,” he said.

To be a life member, an individual or an organization has to donate $10,000 or more to the organization.

On training his dogs, Graham related a story where the first time he fired a gun around one it headed back to the house.

“But when I shot (the gun) on a second trip, several birds flew and he knew that he would get to chase the birds in the water,” he said.

The monies raised help fund various conservation programs.

Local chapter

success

Texas Ducks Unlimited volunteers are known for leading the charge for wetlands conservation and this year 23 chapters in Texas rank among the most successful in the nation.

The Ellis County chapter was among 17 chapters recognized as top 100 chapters for raising up to $100,000 each in grassroots income for Ducks Unlimited’s conservation mission.

Six Texas chapters – Houston, Galveston, Dallas, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Mexia – achieved President’s Elite status, a designation reserved for chapters that raise $100,000 or more annually for Ducks Unlimited’s habitat conservation work.

“Our Texas volunteers continue to step up to the plate and deliver in a big way to help preserve our hunting heritage,” said the organization’s national director of grassroots fundraising, David Schuessler. “To land 23 of the top spots in the nation is a feat that should make Texans extremely proud.”

The 23 Texas chapters earned a spot on these lists out of more than 2,700 Ducks Unlimited chapters nationwide. The nonprofit’s grassroots system has become a model for other conservation organizations worldwide and has helped conserve more than 12 million acres of waterfowl habitat since 1937.         

“These volunteers truly understand the issues waterfowl populations are facing today and the importance of raising funds for DU’s conservation work across North America, including Texas and the breeding grounds that impact the state’s annual migration,” Schuessler said. “Congratulations to these chapters and the men and women who work hard to organize these events.”

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, Ducks Unlimited works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.