Above: SUNY Cobleskill’s Student Chapter of Ducks Unlimited poses with President of Ducks Unlimited, Mr. Rogers Hoyt Jr., during the Awards Banquet Sponsored by YETI. Eric Struening: photo

SUNY Cobleskill’s Student Chapter of Ducks Unlimited was the first college chapter to form here in New York. The longstanding success of the group, which Dr. Michael Losito and Wildlife Management student Cody Davis created in 2012, its continuous steady growth, and high regard for the national organization’s conservation-centered mission, is no secret to the campus community. For the past six years, it has held one of the College’s most noteworthy (and well-attended) fundraising events: The Annual Outdoorsman’s Night Out. Event proceeds go toward wetland conservation initiatives.

The work of club members knows no offseason. Earlier this month, chapter members Aaron France (president), MaKenna Martin (fundraising chair), Cindy Bruneau (treasurer), Riley Delpriore (vice president), Jessica Kryger-Stramaba (historian), and Eric Struening (co-advisor) headed to Ducks Unlimited’s national Third Term Leadership Summit, in Memphis, Tennessee. The group networked with members representing collegiate chapters from across the country, met professionals from numerous industries with ties to the national organization’s commitment to conservation, and exchanged bits of wisdom with summit attendees. It marked the third consecutive trip to Memphis for the SUNY Cobleskill contingent.

“Our members really take advantage of the full range of break-out sessions, activities, and networking opportunities this event creates,” says Struening, whose dedication to Ducks Unlimited both locally and nationally is evidenced by his active volunteer work in New York, and service as co-chair of the 2019 New York State Ducks Unlimited Convention in March. “Our students meet with professionals and discuss the types of careers their participation in Ducks Unlimited helps prepare them for. A big part of the summit is sharing wisdom – discussing what to bring back home for the upcoming year, as it relates to growth and recruitment.”

The trip is also a lot of fun. “I can honestly say that this trip was one of my favorites that I’ve been on starting college,” says Jessica Kryger-Stramba… I am overjoyed that I had the opportunity to represent the SUNY Cobleskill Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.”

A great deal of the knowledge students acquire at the summit will reappear, particularly in fundraising and recruitment initiatives. Chapter leaders are responsible for much of the grassroots growth that takes place during the year. Club fairs, fundraising events, and chapter meetings each present opportunities to grow membership numbers, as well continue spreading a message built around wetland conservation.

Struening says Ducks Unlimited continues to grow at SUNY Cobleskill, due in large part to shared strategies members gain at national events such as the Third Term Leadership Summit each year. Promoting a mission that resonates with all students also contributes.

“Our chapter has grown to include students studying more than wildlife and environmental science — we are growing in that area. That has to do with conservation. At the summit, we met with an industry professional who said she was attending simply for the conservation aspect. I would say that with students, no matter their area of study, conserving waterfowl populations locally is clearly of significant interest.”