Abbeville, Louisiana is a community of just over 10,000 people located southwest of Lafayette and 15 miles from the Gulf Coast on Vermilion Bay. Yet the Vermilion Delta chapter based there plays in the big leagues when it comes to raising money in support of The Duck Hunters Organization. It reached the prestigious milestone of raising $1 million in net proceeds for Delta, joining the Memphis, Gulf Coast (Lake Charles, Louisiana) and Nashville chapters in this elite achievement.
Vermilion Delta chapter Chairman Brandon Broussard said, “We started small, but over the years it’s grown, and we now have a devoted committee of about 25. We have a great group of volunteers and supporters who step up every year and sponsors and donors who make the event the huge success it is today. Without them, we’d never been able to achieve this mark. Experience has taught us to run the event like a small business, and that’s really been important. Our volunteers have done a great job of making us relevant in the community, and people look forward to coming out to support us.”
The Vermilion chapter was formed in 2004, just before hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the region. For a chapter based in a smaller community to achieve this milestone in just 15 years — even without the hurricanes and economic hardships ¬¬— is a remarkable accomplishment. Average attendance at the annual event is about 500, but like so many chapters, Vermilion was unable to hold its 2020 banquet due to pandemic restrictions. Plans are underway for a November 2021 event.
Delta’s Louisiana regional manager for event fundraising Bryan Leach said, “This chapter is blessed with off-the-scale great leadership. Brandon Broussard has been chairman since 2006 and he is truly the quarterback, offensive line, running back, wide receiver — you name it — of this chapter for as long as I’ve been working with him. He does so much above and beyond for Delta and puts in an incredible amount of hours for ducks and duck hunters. We absolutely would not have achieved this mark without him. He’s also been chairman of Delta’s Louisiana state committee since we started it six years ago. Brandon makes it happen for Delta year after year.”
Beyond fundraising, the major focus for the Vermilion chapter is the youth of the community. It hosts a “youth day” each spring for 75-100 kids focused on firearms safety, shotgunning instruction from professionals — and shooting as many clays as participants want. The chapter also uses Waterfowl Heritage Funds (through which 20 percent of Delta chapter-raised funds remain local) to award four college scholarships — two each to graduating young men and young women in the parish. The chapter is proud this program has become one of the community’s largest ongoing scholarship opportunities. At its events, the Vermilion Chapter hosts a special youth program by which kids get in free, enter a special “everybody-wins” sweepstakes and receive a free gift bag. There are also youth-only duck calling contests with prizes by age group.
Delta Waterfowl chief executive officer Dr. Scott Petrie said, “We’re proud to welcome the Vermilion chapter to the prestigious ranks of Delta’s Million Dollar Club. It marks a tremendous milestone and accomplishment for the chapter’s committed volunteers, members, donors and banquet sponsors. We are so honored to have you all working on behalf of The Duck Hunters Organization. Louisiana in particular has faced some big challenges in recent times, and this accomplishment just goes to show the tenacious dedication and resilience of the state’s waterfowl hunters. Bravo Abbeville! Thank you on behalf of duck hunters everywhere.” — Bill Miller