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volume 31 number 1




Game a continued loss of wetlands is wounding saskatchewan’s landscape

Forage for Ducks

forage conversion program is needed to sustain prairie waterfowl numbers

Passionate Pursuit

ducks’ leader on conservation mission

The Canadian Tradition

ducks hits television with unique partnership

Below: a newly-carved ditch snakes through a farmer’s field in north-central Saskatchewan, draining and emptying nearby small wetlands.



Game a Continued loss of wetlands is wounding Saskatchewan’s landscape by d u n c a n m o r r i s o n

Anyone who has dedicated time, money and effort to wetland conservation would find the scene in this area of north-central Saskatchewan deflating.


he rolling agricultural landscape of north-central Saskatchewan is becoming increasingly marked with signs of wetland drainage. The magnitude of this trend – as well as the issues surrounding it – can be illustrated by one particular drainage project. After portions of the province endured two successive seasons (2006-2007) of unusually high runoff and saturated fields, a group of local producers took matters into their own hands. In 2008, they collaboratively hired a contractor to drain the wetlands that they felt were impeding their ability to farm the land. According to some reports, heavy machinery worked for five straight months, clearing kilometres of new drain that connected with previously dug drains. It is estimated that this activity affected more than 700 wetland basins, comprising more than 1,000 acres of land in northcentral Saskatchewan. Not only has this

reduced the amount of wildlife habitat in the region, it also has restricted the flow of valuable ecological goods and services provided by wetlands. This is a situation of great concern for Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), and it is unfortunately not unique to Saskatchewan. The majority of wetland drainage occurs on agricultural lands, and most of Canada’s agricultural landscape is privately owned and managed. For farmers on Canada’s Prairies, drainage is an investment decision that has a long history. By draining wetlands and low areas, farmers can potentially expand their cultivated land base, thereby farming more land. If the market is right and commodity prices are high, drainage could also represent increased returns and the potential to shift to higher-valued annual crops. Farmers also may favour wetland drainage as a way of increasing efficiency in their operations. For example, wetlands and low

Conservator | 31-1 2010


left: Darin Langhorst

below: Brian Wolitski


The bottom line is always the most important line for any business, and farming is no exception.

spots are often viewed as obstacles that increase the distance a farmer operator must travel in a field. By eliminating these inefficiencies, or “nuisance costs” b farmers could reduce the time spent in the field.They may also spend less on machinery operation and maintenance, as well as on crop inputs. Those involved in the drainage project in Saskatchewan could have justified their decision to drain based on any one of the factors outlined above. Given the rolling topography in their region, excess water may have been pooling in areas that the farmers wanted to cultivate. In other cases, the rationale for wetland drainage may have been to reduce flooding of local roadways or to maximize yields by facilitating crop management. Whatever their reasons, we must remember that farmers earn their living by producing our food from the land, and they need to make decisions that are in the best interests of this enterprise.


he bottom line is always the most important line for any business and farming is no exception. However, the long-term financial benefits of the Saskatchewan drainage project will not be known for some time and will depend on a number of factors. While some studies suggest that drainage makes economic sense in certain areas, others indicate that anticipated financial returns may not be realized. For example, some larger wetlands cannot be drained completely and will continue to retain water, so attempts to drain these wetlands will still have negative environmental impacts, without providing the benefits that were anticipated by the farmer. Regardless of the actual outcome, perceived advantages of draining play a substantial role in the decision to drain wetlands. Unfortunately, there is little to counter these ideas in the market.The market signal to farmers is that wetlands are of little or no value, so there is no incentive to keep them on the landscape.

b Source: The Economics of Wetland Drainage in Western Canada – Brett Cortus, University of Alberta, 2005.

Wetlands play many valuable roles Besides providing valuable habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, wetlands are natural filters that improve water quality. They help neutralize a number of different contaminants. Wetlands remove nutrients such as phosphorus from


Conservator | 31-1 2010

water that flows into lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. Wetlands recharge our groundwater. Wetlands overlying porous soil may release up to 150,000 litres of water per hectare per day into groundwater. If wetlands are

destroyed (drained or converted to another land use), groundwater levels will be reduced.

rainfall event causing flooding and floodwater damage increases significantly.

Wetlands help control floods by storing large amounts of water. Conversely, when wetlands are destroyed, the probability of a

Wetlands have the potential to remove and store greenhouse gases from the Earth’s atmosphere.

hatever the rationale behind wetland drainage, DUC needs to learn from each occurrence so we can conserve the wetlands that remain. These efforts will be of critical importance in north-central Saskatchewan for a number of reasons. The Saskatchewan drainage project took place within Canada’s Prairie Pothole Region. DUC’s conservation planners have labelled this region as a top priority for their conservation efforts because it is a critical breeding area for waterfowl. “We are an organization that prides itself on our can-do attitude,” says Karla Guyn, DUC’s director of conservation planning, “but the loss of wetlands is the single most limiting factor in pursuit of our conservation vision for North America’s waterfowl. We will not achieve that vision for ducks if the loss of wetlands continues unchecked and unregulated across such key areas.” The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) also recognizes north-central Saskatchewan as a target landscape because of high wetland densities and high numbers of breeding ducks. Because this drainage project affected over 700 wetland basins, the area’s duck populations will no doubt be affected. This impact also will be felt well beyond the borders of Saskatchewan, because waterfowl that are hatched and fledged in northern Prairie areas typically head to southern wintering grounds in the United States and beyond each fall. “We know that there is always some drainage going on throughout Saskatchewan,” says Gerry Letain, a DUC conservation specialist from Melfort. “However, once we saw this example for ourselves, we could see the drainage was extremely widespread and very visible. A drainage project this big has significant impacts on waterfowl populations, not to mention having other wildlife and water quality implications.” “This example of wetland drainage, and the many others across the province, clearly suggests that there is no better time than now to update government policies designed to conserve wetlands,” says Brent Kennedy, DUC’s Saskatchewan manager of provincial operations. “As a partner, we want to help the Province meet their NAWMP commitments and a good start would be helping them develop an efficient and effective wetland policy that discourages these losses.”


rom a wildlife perspective, wetlands are among Canada’s most productive ecosystems, providing the habitat necessities for hundreds of species of plants, fish, birds and mammals. Recent developments in remote sensing and other

One click is all it takes. Raise funds for wetland conservation with your personal online fundraising campaign! With the click of a button, friends and family anywhere in the world can donate to your campaign and contribute to the wetland conservation cause. The solution is at your fingertips, and making a difference in the fight to stop wetland loss has never been easier. Help save Canada's wetlands by setting up your personal fundraising campaign today!

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n Saskatchewan, a hot button issue for many home and cottage owners is flooding caused by upstream drainage. Saskatchewan’s Fishing Lake, Lake Lenore and Waldsea Lake are some examples of where excess water has ended up. In the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority’s 2007 study, Agricultural Drainage Impacts on Fishing and Waldsea Lakes, drainage was identified as a contributing factor to high water levels and flooding experienced at these lakes. There, cottages and homes have been increasingly inundated by excess seasonal water. The owners of these properties have

Above: ditches carved across fields connect and can empty networks of small pothole wetlands. Right: wetland drainage was identified as a contributing factor in seasonal flooding at Saskatchewan’s Fishing Lake.

Everyone needs to understand the far-reaching consequences of this kind of unencumbered wetland destruction.

Manitoba watershed research trumpets wetland values DUC recently estimated some of the impacts of wetland drainage in Manitoba. These estimates were based on research in the Broughton’s Creek watershed – an area that has land use characteristics and wetland loss rates that are representative of southwest Manitoba. This study indicated that wetland drainage had the following impacts in southwest Manitoba between 1968 and 2005:


Conservator | 31-1 2010

b An increase in total phosphorus loading, by 114 tonnes per year, to Lake Winnipeg. This is the same as dumping 10 semi loads of commercial agricultural fertilizer or 544,000 bags (seven kilograms each) of lawn fertilizer directly into Lake Winnipeg every year.

the emissions of 169,000 cars for 20 years.

c A release of 5.0 million tonnes of carbon that would have been stored in wetland sediments and plant material. This is equivalent to

The estimated value of ecosystem services that wetlands provided for Manitobans between 1968 and 2005, relating to nutrient removal and carbon sequestration alone, is

d An additional 4,518 square kilometres of land contributing run-off to Lake Winnipeg. This is an area 10 times the size of the City of Winnipeg now draining into Lake Winnipeg.

$430 million. To replace the ecosystem services lost in Manitoba, in 2005 alone, would cost approximately $15 million and this will increase to $19 million by 2020 if wetland drainage is not stopped. For more on DUC’s research work in the Broughton’s Creek watershed, visit research/projects/ broughtons

aerial: DU Canada flooding: Sharon Deschamps

technologies suggest that Prairie wetlands are one of the most threatened types of natural capital in Canada. This is not just an issue for our wildlife populations, because wetlands represent a myriad of valuable ecological goods and services for society. Wetland drainage can have a chain effect, because the water diverted from each wetland is likely heading downstream to neighbouring land. When upstream activities flood neighbouring farmers’ fields they may be prompted, in turn, to drain the additional water from their property… and so the chain of drainage continues.

suffered significant loss and the Province has spent tens of millions of dollars in disaster relief. Flooding from upstream drainage is only part of the story. As wetlands are removed from the landscape, these natural basins are no longer in place to capture water from snowmelt and rainfall. This means that larger areas of land are now draining into our waterways. As more water crosses more land, it picks up excess nutrients and pollutants, which are then carried into water bodies that we could be using for recreation and drinking water.

If wetlands remain intact on the landscape, the vegetation within them will slow down the flow of water. This will allow for more water to recharge depleted groundwater supplies, while also purifying what remains above ground as it moves through the system from inlet to outlet. There is a significant body of science to show that these functions of wetlands are underappreciated, and that continued drainage can cause harm to people and other life forms. A

nds p wetla ks kee ate today! c u D Help nds. Don la m on our tomor r o f s d n wetla

Moving forward


UC is deeply troubled by the fact that wetland loss continues because we recognize that it has major consequences. This is not just an agricultural issue, or a biological issue, or even an economic issue; it is a major societal issue. To address this problem, DUC needs to begin a frank and open discussion about water and what needs to be done to protect it. This will clearly require the conservation of wetlands. Both government and taxpayers share the responsibility to ensure long-term wetland protection. Working with farmers, government, industry and other partners, DUC is trying to find ways of meeting these stakeholders’ needs without sacrificing wetlands. Because wetlands connect all of us, DUC believes all parties need to be engaged in developing effective wetland policies to help conserve this important form of natural capital. An effective policy must include specific objectives for wetland conservation, as well as regulations that can be complied with and enforced. Effective policies should also provide the basis for incentives to landowners, to correct the false market signal that wetlands are not worth protecting or restoring. The drainage project in north-central Saskatchewan tells a startling tale about the magnitude of wetland loss occurring in our agricultural landscape, and it is just one of many. Everyone needs to understand the far-reaching consequences of this kind of unencumbered wetland destruction. We need to recognize that we all play a role in this story, and we should take comfort in the fact that we can shape its plot. As taxpayers, we need to engage politicians, at all levels, to help find solutions. Government must also play their role, by listening to their constituents and by taking this issue seriously. The solution to this problem can found in the right mix of policies and regulations, and DUC will continue to push for this so we can end the troubling story of wetland loss.

New card coming to you soon! We’re going “duck green”! Every year we send thousands of plastic cards to our supporters with your personal ID number. This year, as part of our eco-friendly initiatives, your supporter ID card will be a paper card. Plus… your new supporter card now gives you access to an online world of ducks where the power of wetland conservation is just a click away! Go online to and use your unique ID number to: • create your own personal campaign • send personalized e-cards to your friends and family • check out all the other cool stuff to do For more information, call 1-866-384-DUCK (3825) or email

by k a r l i r e i m e r


Conservator | 31-1 2010

left: Darin Langhorst

A lack of upland nesting habitat provided by perennial forage is one of the limiting factors for waterfowl production on the Canadian Prairies. A fully funded forage conversion program is needed to sustain waterfowl numbers here.

pintail: DU Canada

When the drought of 1988 hit southern Saskatchewan, Tim Jones started hauling his cattle 645 kilometres to Manitoba’s Alonsa area to graze while his family’s land was short on both water and grass. “The only reason hauling cattle all that way made sense was that we were taking them to *PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) pasture.You couldn’t get your cattle into PFRA pasture land here in Saskatchewan,” Jones says. “Mind you, fuel was 35 cents a litre then and we had our own trucks.We couldn’t do it now with the price of fuel.” The Jones family runs a large cattle operation south of Moose Jaw in the rolling hills of the Missouri Coteau – a prime waterfowl production area on the Prairies. Jones has been farming for 20 years with his father and two brothers in the area where he has lived all his life. The Jones ranch first participated in Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) forage conversion program in 2000, the same year they stopped shipping cattle back and forth from Manitoba. The program helped with the cost of converting the ranch’s annually cropped farmland to forage. Although the Jones family primarily run a cattle operation, they had some poor cultivated land and the forage program gave some incentive to convert it to perennial cover. “Signing up for DUC’s forage program was a good fit for our ranch. We initially converted a large chunk of land into forage in the early 2000s and it was good because we even sold some hay from it for the first few years.”

with more perennial grassland cover have a higher probability of successfully hatching. Not only do perennial forages provide safe and attractive nesting sites, predator communities in grassland landscapes seem to have less impact on nesting ducks as well.” Research conducted at a landscape level on the Prairies indicates that a 10 per cent increase in perennial grass cover could result in an eight per cent increase in the total number of nests hatched. Therefore, maintaining and increasing the amount of grassland in a landscape will positively influence nest success and benefit waterfowl dramatically. Though waterfowl are typically associated with wetlands, many species common to the Prairies nest in the grassy uplands around wetlands. These species include mallard, northern pintail, blue-winged teal, gadwall and northern shoveler. “For some species, it is not unusual to find their nests over one kilometre from the nearest wetland,” Devries says. Devries says that another advantage of having grasslands and forage on the ground is that the wetlands embedded in these areas are usually at a lower risk of drainage, hence maintaining the other critical part of the landscape waterfowl need. The wetlands and grasslands habitat that waterfowl prefer also provide benefits for other wildlife.



ucks also benefit from the lands converted to forage. DUC and the other partners of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) have identified a lack of upland nesting habitat as one of the primary limiting factors for waterfowl production on the Canadian Prairies.This lack of attractive and safe nesting cover, which is primarily provided by perennial grasslands and forage, results in waterfowl being forced to select less productive habitats like annually cropped fields. Waterfowl that nest in annually cropped land, with the exception of fall-seeded cereals, are generally unsuccessful due to vulnerability to predators and disruption by cropping operations. “There are big values in having forage on the landscape,” says Jim Devries, regional research biologist for DUC. “Our research suggests that nests in landscapes

UC developed its first large-scale forage conversion program in 1998. This program was widely successful across the Prairies and converted almost a quarter million acres to forage with technical and financial assistance from DUC, demonstrating that conservation interests and the agricultural industry can work together for mutual benefit. Through the next decade of forage program delivery, DUC worked with various partners to maximize the impact of its forage conversion program. Many local conservation districts and groups were involved in the program’s success. DUC also worked with provincial and federal government partners to deliver programs together or in a complementary fashion. The most recent success was Agriculture and AgriFood Canada’s (AAFC) Greencover Canada Program. This program targeted physically marginal soils, some

* Editor’s note: Changes were recently made to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) that resulted in PFRA ceasing operations and becoming part of the Agri-Environment Services Branch. This new branch is an integration of three components: PFRA, National Land and Water Information Service (NLWIS) and AgriEnvironmental Policy Bureau (AEPB) and is designed to address AAFC’s agri-environmental issues.

Conservator | 31-1 2010


Above: DUC advocates forage programs that benefits both producers and Prairie waterfowl. Below: Tim Jones speaks on native forage establishment and management during 2009 Native Prairie Appreciation Week in Saskatchewan.

of which were located in areas important to waterfowl. The other major partners in DUC’s forage conversion program have been Prairie Canadian farmers and ranchers. “What we call nesting habitat, ranchers view as hay or pasture for their livestock,” says Paul Thoroughgood, regional agrologist for DUC’s Prairie Region. “Our forage conversion program has helped farmers and ranchers establish new pastures and hayfields with DUC sharing in the associated costs. It’s a great example of DUC being able to recognize and compensate them

left: Brian Wolitski

for one of the ecological goods and services produced on their farm – waterfowl.” The Jones family has since seeded down their land to native pastures with AAFC’s Greencover Canada Program and is now sticking to native grasses. “The tame forage was great when we were selling hay early on in the conversion of our marginal lands,” Tim Jones says. “Where we live there is a lot of marginal soil and it’s fairly dry. The native stands have really impressed me even after haying. They also give year-round grazing potential.” Jones says his ranch has another 1,500 acres to seed down to forage again this year. His cattle graze on native grass pastures late into the year, which works in southern Saskatchewan because they don’t get a lot of snow in the area. “We don’t usually start putting our cows out swath grazing until New Year’s,” Jones says. Swath grazing is a practice on the Prairies where swaths of feed are left in the field for the cattle to graze during the winter. It is used to extend the grazing season. “Putting marginal land into forage is a lot better use of it for us than farming it,” he says. “This land should be in forage of some kind. It extends the grazing season and offers a more consistent supply of winter feed.” Jones’s cattle run on pasture and swaths until the end of February. If the year is good and swath grazing is decent they don’t start feeding their cattle until mid-March. Being in pothole country, keeping water on the land also gives Jones better forage production and greater carrying capacity, not to mention a perfect habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. He says the forage growth

is even more productive in the small wetlands that dry up by late summer. These temporary and ephemeral wetlands are also critical as waterfowl feeding and pairing sites during the spring when they hold water.


ecent declines in the cattle market have increased the need for incentives to growers to convert land to hay and pasture. “DUC’s forage conversion program was a welcome help on our ranch, especially in helping with the cost of converting big acres,” says Jones. “To just stop and seed a couple thousand acres of grass down is hard, especially when there can be little return for up to two years.”

The success of DUC’s forage program to date is a testament to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the ability to facilitate investment in Canadian habitat by partners in the United States. However, downturns in the U.S. economy have reduced the ability to fully fund this program from traditional sources. DUC has successfully attracted major partners to help offset this reduced funding by lowering costs in other important program areas. For example, the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, partially funds DUC’s land purchase and conservation easement programs and Bayer CropScience stepped up and became DUC’s partner in its winter wheat efforts. DUC is now aggressively seeking similar partnerships to ensure its forage conversion program continues to grow. DUC tries to work across critical landscapes to improve habitat conditions for waterfowl by protecting what remains


Conservator | 31-1 2010

and then adding to the productive capacity through wetland restoration, promotion of winter cereals and forage conversion. “We believe this more holistic approach is really critical to the long-term success of breeding waterfowl,” says Thoroughgood. “Many landscapes still have excellent wetlands, but are severely lacking nesting habitat to ensure the waterfowl attracted to those areas are successful. Having a full suite of conservation programs available to offer farmers and ranchers increases the potential for improving the landscape for waterfowl.” Changing economic times always present challenges, but there are also great opportunities for new partners to come on board to help share in the success of sustaining the health of the land while filling the skies with waterfowl. A surefire step forward would be a fully funded forage conversion program on the ground. DUC is working toward that goal.

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“When durum wheat spiked a few years ago, it put a halt on converting land to forage in this area. And with the cattle business being so poor, that’s been a big part of it too. But we think you’d be banging your head against the wall trying to keep bad land in annual crops, especially with the price of fertilizer, fuel and other inputs these days,” he says. Having a healthy beef industry is not only good for the land, but good for conservation.With predicted growth in the cow-calf sector, future forage programs may have tremendous potential – for landowners and waterfowl alike. A

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These days, Nelson is leading the organization through a robust and strategic planning session and engaging people at all levels. The Winnipeg Free Press and People First, Manitoba’s largest full service HR agency, interviewed Nelson as part of an ongoing series about top Manitoba employers. The following feature was published in October 2009 following a discussion with Nelson about the many people united around DU Canada’s habitat conservation mission.



by J oh n M c F e r r a n with reporting by B a r ba r a C haba i (reprinted courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press)


Conservator | 31-1 2010

mallard: Brian Wolitski left: Tye Gregg

Since first stepping into his role as Ducks Unlimited Canada CEO in 2008, Jeff Nelson has worked closely to build a strong leadership team of staff and volunteers.

an organization’s success depends on uniting people for a common purpose, imagine when it attracts people with the same core passion right from the start. That’s one feather in the cap of Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), a private, non-profit charitable organization that conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. “Ducks Unlimited was started during the Dust Bowl back in the 1930s by people who were passionate about waterfowl and waterfowl hunting,” explains DUC chief executive officer Jeff Nelson. “Since then we’ve evolved into a wetlands conservation organization whose work has many societal benefits such as improved water quality, flood control, green space and environmental sustainability. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that the people who work here and who support us continue to be deeply passionate about conserving wetland habitat.” With its national head office located at the Oak Hammock Marsh Conservation Centre near Stonewall and satellite offices spread across every province and territory, DUC employs over 425 full-time people and relies on the grassroots support of 7,400 fiercely loyal volunteers. “We have the advantage of being a passion-driven organization,” Nelson says. “We’re all here because we want to make the world better for future generations.”


What do you see as the advantages of leading a passion-driven organization?

I’ve been involved with DUC and DU Inc. for 27 years now, and in both Canada and the U.S., it is a culture of very passionate people.There’s probably some public perception that we’re passionate about hunting, but it extends far beyond that into a passion

for conservation. In fact, most people who hunt waterfowl are as much conservationists as hunters and they look to us to continue the legacy because it means a lot to them. As an employer, this passion also makes DUC a great place to work. I know of people who left the organization but quickly came back after discovering that they couldn’t get the same satisfaction working elsewhere. They simply missed having that sense of purpose. It’s also a big plus to come to work at Oak Hammock Marsh every day because it creates a relaxed and informal environment. We get a lot done, but at the same time, there’s also a lot of fun to be had.


What about employees who don’t share the same sense of passion about what you do?


We are careful when hiring new people because our culture tends to be hard on those who do not share that passion. Our turnover rate is under 7.6 per cent, below the average observed by the Conference Board of Canada, and those who leave often don’t share a passion for what we’re doing. So we are doing more work to understand who will best fit into our culture without minimizing the need for diversity. At the same time, we are creating ways to instil that purpose in our people. For example, we created a course called Ducks 101 that gets non-conservation-trained employees out of the office and into the field to show them what we do and why we do it. That makes them even more passionate and knowledgeable about the reason we are here.


You mentioned diversity. Why is diversity important in a passion-driven organization?


While passion comes with our shared commitment to conservation, I’m also aware of the need

Conservator | 31-1 2010


Jeff Nelson Chief Executive Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

for diversity. By that, I mean a diversity of experience. Often, when you have everyone thinking the exact same way it’s hard to get anywhere because of groupthink. It’s important to have people at the table with differing perspectives. For instance, on our science and research side, we have people with PhDs who typically prefer to base decisions on an abundance of information. But if we bring in someone with a political or sales background, they will likely see the issue in an entirely different way. That blend of perspectives is where we tend to get the “Aha!” ideas from. Another consideration is our male-to-female employee ratio. Ducks Unlimited has a male-dominated history, and yet we now have a workforce that is made up of 40 per cent women. That’s not by any conscious decision or practice, it’s just that women are increasingly interested and involved in conservation. In fact, university conservation programs now typically enrol more women than men. We have certainly found that women’s perspectives are one way to bring diversity of thought into our organization.


right: Darin Langhorst

“One thing that hasn’t changed is that the people who work here and who support us continue to be deeply passionate about conserving wetland habitat.”

my executive team and encouraged them to read it as well. What I’m ultimately looking for is what Collins calls Level 5 leadership, that sort of high-energy but low-ego kind of team player. Someone who demonstrates a passion for what we are doing. Someone who can challenge an idea, get into a spirited debate, but at the end of the day when we all decide what needs to be done, they can go out and make things happen. That’s the kind of Level 5 leaders I want running this organization. Particularly because we have such a large number of volunteers, our leaders need to be able to relate to and engage people of all different backgrounds and perspectives and have them take ownership rather than imposing top-down decisions on others.


What mentors have most influenced your leadership style?

Other than my parents, who instilled values like integrity, honesty and treating people fairly, I would say that I most admire a fellow by the name of

Dr. Alan Wentz (senior group manager for conservation programs at DU Inc. in the United States), a longtime colleague and my previous supervisor. Alan was very clear on where we were going and yet didn’t make decisions for you. He would offer his opinion if you asked for it, but if you called him thinking that he was going to tell you what to do, it wasn’t going to happen. He wanted you to make your own decisions and when you made them, he supported you. Of course, if you were about to step off a cliff he’d say so, but he was very good at not telling you exactly what to do or overruling you. That’s also important. If you override your people and tell them what to do, you’ll end up with a lot of employees who can’t, or won’t, make decisions on their own. You’ll soon be in charge of everything. A

DUC employs 425 people across Canada, bonded by a strong belief in the organization’s conservation cause – from the field (above) to the boardroom.

On the people front, what are some of the challenges you are facing?


Leave a legacy of wetland conservation. By including Ducks in your will, your commitment to protecting the environment will live on forever. It will help reduce taxes on your estate, while ensuring the natural surroundings you grew up enjoying remain for years to come. Include Ducks in your planned giving and help save wetlands for tomorrow. Call Lloyd Derry at 1-866-301-DUCK (3825) or 1-403-476-1880.

One of the things our organization is focused on is doing a better job with succession planning. The need for succession planning has never been a big part of our culture and that needs to change. Right now, we’re trying to move some of the pieces around in terms of getting people ready for eventual leadership positions through training and by giving them opportunities to take on greater responsibility. Among our staff, 48 per cent have been with us over 10 years, so we have a large number of long-term employees. With a large wave of retirements coming up in the next few years, it’s important to create a culture where we think about the future today rather than say, “Oh well, that’ll be somebody else’s problem after I go.” As a volunteer organization, our succession planning must include them as well as our staff if we wish to be successful in the longer term. To avoid an aging volunteer corps we must make sure to get people in their 20s, 30s and 40s involved. The last thing we want is to depend too heavily on long-term volunteers until they retire or are too tired, putting the organization at risk of becoming irrelevant to the next generation.


Conservator | 31-1 2010

Become a Sponsor – Save an Acre


As you focus on succession planning, what are you looking for in future leaders?

Together we can stop wetland loss. As a Ducks volunteer, I raise much-needed funds for wetland conservation. By soliciting sponsorships from other conservation-minded people in the community, I’m helping save valuable acres of wetland habitat. Canada’s wetlands provide habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife and naturally filter our water. Despite this, as much as 70 per cent of wetlands have been lost in settled areas of the country, and more are being lost every day. Becoming a sponsor is one of the best – and easiest – ways to make a difference.


I’m a big fan of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. In fact, when I first got here, I gave the book to

You can help, too. Become a sponsor – for less than 70 cents a day – and help ensure the future of Canada’s wetlands. Contact a local Ducks volunteer in your community, call 1-866-384-DUCK (3825) or visit

Conservator Magazine Volume 31 issue 1  

Stories include: The Canadian Tradition passionate pursuit, Forage for ducks, A continued loss of wetlands is wounding Saskatchewan’s lan...