Delta Waterfowl Staff
Dr. Scott Petrie
An avid waterfowler and renowned biologist, Dr. Scott Petrie, 50, was named Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientist of Delta Waterfowl in 2015. He came to The Duck Hunters Organization as an accomplished and respected leader in the waterfowl conservation community, having served as executive director at Long Point Waterfowl in Ontario for 18 years.
Relying on his experience and strong connections in both the waterfowl management and hunting communities, Petrie’s notable achievements include leading Delta’s development and events staff through a period of rapid growth; overseeing the organization’s expanded conservation and leadership roles in the Atlantic and Pacific Flyways; placing renewed emphasis on and raising public awareness of Delta’s waterfowl research legacy; and advancing Delta’s hunter recruitment/retention efforts and programs such as Hen Houses and Working Wetlands.
As a young man, Petrie worked on a family dairy farm in Atwood, Ontario, where he also began hunting ducks and geese. His passion for waterfowl grew out of research as a “Delta student” in 1986 and 1987, when he worked on the Marsh Ecology Research Program and Minnedosa Canvasback Project. He completed an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario in 1990, and earned his PhD at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa in 1997, where he studied the wintering and breeding ecologies of the white-faced whistling duck.
“It was very exciting to return to the organization I started with as a student,” Petrie said. “It’s been a pleasure leading an excellent team that’s increasing the impact and delivery of Delta’s conservation programs. Delta is gaining recognition as a key contributor to waterfowl conservation and as the premier organization supporting duck hunters across North America.”
When he’s not in the office, you’ll find Petrie hunting waterfowl and pheasants with his English springer spaniel, Boone, attending his sons’ hockey games or spending time with his wife, Val. He lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Dr. Frank Rohwer
A legendary waterfowl biologist and hunting advocate, Dr. Frank Rohwer was raised near the Chesapeake Bay, where at age 12 he began duck hunting the public marshes on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“As I grew up, I saw the Chesapeake’s ecosystem fall apart,” he said. “It lost its submerged aquatic vegetation, ducks and fish. That had a big impact on me.”
During Rohwer’s senior year of high school, he was invited to hunt the Central Flyway by his brother, Sievert, who was completing a Ph.D. in waterfowl ecology at Kansas State University.
“I was simply overwhelmed at the number of ducks,” Rohwer said. “That one trip convinced me to go to Kansas State for the duck hunting — as it turned out, the academics were perfect for me, too.”
Rohwer was instructed by internationally known faculty, including Steve Fretwell, and sought additional guidance from graduate biology students.
“In particular, a Ph.D. candidate named Patrick Caldwell was a Delta Waterfowl student,” Rohwer said. “As soon as I learned of Delta, I wanted to work there. I pestered then-scientific director Dr. Bruce Batt for two years before I wore him down and he hired me to be a summer technician at Delta in 1976.”
Rohwer remained a Delta student while completing his undergraduate degree and earning a Master of Science degree from Washington State University. He attained a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed postdoctoral work at Queen’s University in Ontario.
In the ensuing decades, Rohwer ascended from Delta Waterfowl student to president and chief scientist of the organization — and one of its most recognizable public faces. And while his early research focused on basic waterfowl mysteries, such as why ducks lay about 10 eggs and not more, his more recent work is unlocking cutting-edge tools to help Delta boost the fall flight.
“The body of scientific work that other waterfowl folks most associate with me is my research that shows Predator Management is an effective and efficient strategy to increase production for dabbing ducks,” he said.
One thing has remained constant throughout Rohwer’s four-decade career: Delta Waterfowl “follows the science” to find solutions for ducks and duck hunters.
“I am exceptionally proud of our strong base in science,” he said. “Science guides our programs and policies, not emotion and political correctness. I love working at Delta because we always speak the truth, even when it isn’t pretty.”
When he isn’t guiding Delta’s research, Rohwer enjoys hunting ducks and pheasants with his English springer spaniel, Spat, and playing sports with his 10-year-old son.
Jason Tharpe grew up an avid waterfowler in the town of Bastrop, Louisiana. Though he works largely behind the scenes while overseeing Delta’s affairs as chief operating officer, he’s one of the organization’s most respected minds on all matters affecting ducks and duck hunters.
“I bring a no-nonsense business perspective to our discussions,” Tharpe said. “Yes, I’m the ‘beans and bullets’ guy who reminds everyone we have to pay the electric bill. But after 16 years at Delta, I like to think I still bring the perspective of the everyday duck hunter.”
Tharpe joined the Delta Waterfowl staff in 2002 as one of the original regional directors — a period of transition in which Delta shifted from an exclusively research institution to The Duck Hunters Organization, committed to producing ducks and securing the future of waterfowl hunting in North America.
“I am a passionate waterfowler with two boys, ages 16 and 19,” said Tharpe, who holds degrees in paper science and technology, non-profit leadership and management, and psychology. “It excites me every day to know that I am contributing to their ability to hunt waterfowl and hopefully pass it along to their children.”
Tharpe enjoys hunting ducks with his black Lab, Jack, fishing, camping and skiing.
A lifelong duck hunter raised in a small community northeast of St. Paul, Minnesota, John Devney has been at the forefront of Delta Waterfowl’s mission since November of 1998. Previously an aspiring attorney with a degree in political science from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a chance encounter shifted his career path.
“After being a Delta member for several years, I met Delta’s Jim Fisher and former president Rob Olson at Game Fair in Anoka, Minnesota, in August of 1998,” Devney said. “I offered to contribute complimentary freelance articles to the Delta Waterfowl Report (precursor to Delta Waterfowl magazine). That led to a discussion of creating a new communications and marketing position, and I jumped in with both feet.”
In addition to a myriad of responsibilities, Devney directed Delta’s communications for more than a decade. Today, as vice president of U.S. policy, he works to ensure positive outcomes for ducks and duck hunters on the local, state and federal levels. Notably, he partnered with members of the agriculture community to engineer Delta’s Working Wetlands program, an innovative, incentive-based habitat initiative that focuses on protecting the best duck-producing wetlands.
“I’ve worn a number of hats throughout the organization, from the fledgling stages of our communications, marketing, membership and events program to today’s work on development and policy,” he said. “I have been fortunate to survey a diverse landscape, which allows me to have a broad view of Delta’s value and how to communicate it.”
If you ever have the opportunity to chat with Devney, you’ll instantly recognize his intricate understanding of the issues facing ducks and the future of waterfowling. And you’ll note he’s still just as motivated to find solutions as he was two decades ago.
“Delta is making a unique, critically important impact,” he said. “Whether it is hunter recruitment, duck production, new solutions to long-vexing habitat problems or issues of declining hunter access, Delta’s solutions are best-in-class and represent the best hope for ducks and duck hunters.”
In addition to duck hunting, Devney enjoys fishing, training his black Lab and running hunt tests. He lives in Bismarck, North Dakota, with his wife and three children.
Tim Beckler brought an abundance of business finance expertise to Delta Waterfowl in 2003, following 12 years of experience in public accounting and a two-year stint as controller of a family-owned car dealership. A Certified Public Accountant, Beckler’s thoughtful planning and execution of projects, accurate analysis of financial and business decisions, and thoughtful advice on new ventures are highly valued by his Delta colleagues.
“It’s exciting to be part of a successful team and know that my skills of accounting and business management made a difference,” Beckler said. “And it’s rewarding to work toward a conservation cause that’s greater than myself by contributing to Delta’s efficient workplace environment.”
While Beckler is not currently an avid hunter, a spark was lit when he was invited to try dove and duck hunting.
“My wife and I plan to take a hunter safety course, and I look forward to expanding my interest in hunting in the near future,” he said. “Until then, as an avid fisherman, I will continue to hunt the elusive North Dakota walleye.”
Beckler additionally enjoys kayaking, sitting by a campfire, biking, hiking, golfing and attending concerts.
Joel Brice has always been fascinated by wetland systems.
“In the dead of winter, you’re hard pressed to find anything living in them,” he said. “But come spring, they come alive with more animals and sounds than you thought possible.”
His interest led him to pursue a bachelor of science in wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a Master of Science in biology from the University of North Dakota. In early 2001, he was working for the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, North Dakota, when he received a call from his former graduate advisor.
“He’d received a call from the vice president of Delta Waterfowl, who was looking to hire a young biologist,” Brice said. “I applied, interviewed and the rest is history.”
That history includes an impactful career at Delta Waterfowl, most recently guiding the organization’s duck production and hunter recruitment/retention programs.
“I grew up in a long line of hunters and went to college with hundreds of guys who also hunted,” he said. “Until I came to Delta, I didn’t realize that the future of hunting is at risk. I’m proud to work for an organization that is strongly focused on waterfowl hunting as well as waterfowl. The opportunity to help impact the future of a continental resource is a monumental task that I thrive upon.”
Given Brice’s interest in wetlands, perhaps it’s no surprise he most enjoys hunting ducks with his yellow Lab, Chester, over water.
“To me, the splash of a duck and a swimming Labrador go together like milk and cookies,” he said.
Brice also enjoys fishing, camping, horseback riding and hiking with his wife and children.
“Lately, you’ll most likely find me chauffeuring my kids to sporting events or coaching,” he said.
Delta Waterfowl bolstered the organization’s fundraising leadership in 2017 by hiring John Davis as vice president of development – corporations and foundations.
Davis, 39, a Texas native, now lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
An avid duck hunter, Davis completed an undergraduate degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Texas A&M. In 2000, he served as a Delta Waterfowl research assistant in Erickson and Minnedosa, Manitoba, studying lesser scaup.
After college, Davis found work in the healthcare industry, where he spent more than 12 years raising funds for a non-profit foundation that assisted people in great medical need.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to come back to Delta,” he said. “I’m using my experiences with capital campaigns and planned giving to build on the recent impressive growth of Delta Waterfowl. Ultimately, I want to fully fund Delta’s mission and initiatives, and continue to grow the organization.”
Dr. Scott Petrie, chief executive officer of Delta, said the addition of Davis is proving a key step forward for The Duck Hunter’s Organization.
“The hiring of John Davis is facilitating rapid organizational growth, and ensuring that Delta continues to make significant contributions to conservation, research, hunting advocacy and wetland protection throughout North America,” Petrie said.
A Texas native, Davis lives in Forth Smith, Arkansas. He most enjoys hunting waterfowl in the south’s flooded cypress forests, while his favorite duck is a toss-up between the canvasback, wood duck and pintail.
Alex Heiser earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing/advertising communications from Minnesota State University–Moorhead, and has worked in his field of study for his entire career. But, he was looking for something more: A place of employment where he could apply his skills, feel passionate in his work and give back to conservation. That search led Heiser to Delta Waterfowl.
His strategic thinking, long-term planning and entrepreneurship have made him a critical asset in Delta’s mission to produce ducks and secure the future of waterfowl hunting.
“Delta has given me the opportunity to apply my marketing background in a field that I truly enjoy,” Heiser said. “It’s rewarding to know that my efforts, along with the great work Delta does, are making a difference for waterfowlers.”
Raised on a farm in rural North Dakota, he’s hunted the same family property since he was 5 years old. The landscape has changed, in some ways for the better: Wood ducks were a rare sight when he was a boy, but now there are hundreds to be found.
When he isn’t hunting, you’ll find Heiser fishing, camping or spending time with his wife, kids and black Lab, Sage.
A lifelong resident of Memphis, Tennessee, Jeffrey Howell was hooked as a kid on the south’s mallard hunting opportunities, particularly in rice fields and flooded green timber. After attending the University of Memphis, he was employed for more than a decade as a securities investment professional.
His love of duck hunting and career experience soon caught the eye of two members of Delta’s board of directors. “They knew I was a long-time member of Delta Waterfowl and steered me toward working for the organization,” Howell said. “Joining the Delta team was an easy decision for me, because I’m passionate about its cause and know that we are laser-focused on what matters for waterfowl. I’m incredibly grateful and honored to talk ducks and hunting with incredible men and women who help steward Delta’s mission and vision.”
Howell joined Delta in 2015 as a development director for the Mid-South, and in 2017 was appointed Vice President of Development.
“I want to see Delta grow substantially over the next decade,” he said. “So much can happen when all of us who are interested in conservation can band together so Delta can produce more ducks and secure the future of waterfowl hunting.”
When Howell isn’t hunting or fishing with friends and family, he enjoys spending time snow skiing in Colorado, time at Pickwick Lake in Tennessee and Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas. He lives in Memphis with his wife Kirsten, son Grant and daughter Averie.
Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Chris Nicolai
Nicolai is a renowned biologist with more than 20 years of waterfowl research experience, serving since 2010 as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 8 (California and Nevada) migratory bird biologist. As waterfowl scientist, Nicolai will accelerate the expansion of Delta’s research program across all four flyways, and advise the waterfowl management leaders of tomorrow — Delta Waterfowl’s student research technicians.
“As the world leader in waterfowl research, Delta Waterfowl is thrilled to welcome Dr. Nicolai,” said Dr. Scott Petrie, CEO and chief scientific officer of Delta Waterfowl. “He is truly an elite-level waterfowl biologist, and his talent and expertise make him the perfect fit to substantially increase the capacity of Delta’s research program.”
A lifelong waterfowl hunter raised in Minnesota, Nicolai enrolled in Vermilion Community College in 1991 as an aviation major. However, three weeks into his first semester, the discovery of a classroom full of duck wings put him on a new path.
“I was fascinated by ducks and even knew all their scientific names, yet somehow I didn’t realize you could make a career out of waterfowl biology,” Nicolai said. “I changed my degree the next day and never looked back.”
Nicolai honed his newfound passion as a Delta Waterfowl student research assistant during the summer of 1996, studying the nest success of redheads under the tutelage of Dr. Frank Rohwer, now president and chief scientist of Delta Waterfowl. In 2010, Nicolai earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Nevada, Reno. He went on to study waterfowl across the continent, publish dozens of peer-reviewed works, and establish himself as a foremost expert on waterfowl banding/tracking, hunter-harvest modeling and other critical science. He’s also considered the only biologist to have captured or banded every species of ducks, geese and swans native to North America.
“I’ve had numerous roles in my career, but waterfowl scientist of Delta Waterfowl is my dream job,” Nicolai said. “I look forward to furthering Delta’s legacy of groundbreaking science, and working on high-level research that benefits ducks and duck hunters.”
Nicolai will work from Delta’s Bismarck, North Dakota, headquarters. He lives with his wife Amy, daughters Grace and Emily, and Labrador retriever Molli (registered as Nicolai’s Somateria mollissima, a reference to the scientific name of common eiders).
Nicolai can be reached at (775) 830-1632 or email@example.com.
One of Delta Waterfowl’s longest-tenured employees, Jim Fisher’s first involvement with the organization was as a Marsh Ecology Research Program (MERP) technician in 1990, while earning a bachelor of science degree at the University of Manitoba. He remained a Delta student as he pursued a Master of Science degree in natural resources management, assisting in the launch of new Delta conservation programs, notably Hen Houses.
“That got my foot in the door with Delta and I started full-time in 1993,” said Fisher, who now serves as director of conservation policy. “I have worked on a myriad of files for Delta over the years, from delivering programs and writing grant proposals to selling memberships at an outdoor expo. I enjoy meeting with people and bringing Delta’s scientific perspective to help shape conservation and hunting program efforts.”
In his current role, Fisher advocates for waterfowlers and guides Delta’s policies on agriculture, conservation, hunter recruitment/retention and more in Canada.
“I have always had a keen interest in farming and understanding how ducks and wetlands fit in on the farm,” he said. “I am also very interested in helping advocate for hunters, especially in Canada where there’s an especially high need for Delta’s efforts.”
Fisher was raised in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, where he began hunting ducks at age 10 with his Uncle John at Tin Town, a collection of shooting camps on the south side of Delta Marsh. He remains hooked on hunting divers.
“I am lucky to have a family that enables me to pursue my intense drive to hunt, especially ducks but also deer, pheasants, grouse and turkeys,” he said. “I look forward every year to an annual gathering of best friends at the end of fall to hunt and cook wild ducks, especially bluebills.”
Fisher lives in Winnipeg with his wife, daughter, springer spaniel and black Lab.
Best known as Delta Waterfowl’s Hen House guru, Matt Chouinard developed his passions for waterfowl conservation and hunting while growing up in the “bootheel” of Missouri.
“For me, there’s no better place to watch mallards respond to good calling than the flooded timber of Arkansas and southeast Missouri,” he said. “Every aspect of my work that increases duck populations and hunting opportunities is highly rewarding for me.”
While studying wildlife biology at the University of Missouri, Chouinard spent the summers of 1999 and 2000 as a Delta Waterfowl student research technician. He was a Delta graduate student for two subsequent years, which prepared him for a 3-year stint working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, Chouinard left a lasting impression at Delta, and the organization offered him a full-time role as waterfowl programs manager in 2007.
“I probably get most excited about my job when I see the fruits of our labor,” Chouinard said. “There’s nothing better than seeing a mallard hen nesting in a Delta Hen House!”
In addition to waterfowl hunting, Chouinard enjoys fishing, camping, spending time with his wife, Michelle, and their children, Max and Madeline, and cheering on his favorite sports teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals and University of Missouri Tigers.
A native of Vermont, Mike Buxton was a standout Delta Waterfowl research technician during his final two summers as an undergraduate student. In 2010, he was accepted into graduate school at Louisiana State University, where his research focused on Delta’s Predator Management program. After defending his thesis and earning a Master of Science degree in wildlife sciences, Delta invited him to return to the organization as waterfowl programs manager.
He has since proven himself a dedicated manager of Delta’s duck production programs and a true innovator. In particular, his ideas and research continue to increase the extreme effectiveness and efficiency of Predator Management.
“I enjoy the opportunity to work on and enhance programs that increase duck production and opportunities for duck hunters across North America,” Buxton said. “Several seasons of field research have given me a unique perspective on how different environmental components interact with each other, and how waterfowl managers must adjust for changing conditions and circumstances. What a duck goes through from spring migration to successfully hatching a nest and raising a brood of ducklings is nothing short of amazing to me.”
While Buxton is fascinated by the ecologies of all waterfowl, his favorite duck is the American wigeon. He enjoys layout hunting in the agricultural fields of prairie Canada and the Upper Midwest United States, training his black Lab, Tank, camping with his wife, Sarah and completing do-it-yourself projects at his home.
Duck hunting and the outdoors were planted with Matt Davis early on as he grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at the heart of the Fox River Valley. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he earned his degree in wildlife ecology.
His connection with Delta began with roles as a corvid (birds in the crow family) removal technician in Minnedosa and work at Delta Marsh in 2017 and 2018. He realized quickly that playing a role in habitat restoration at the Marsh provided a strong sense of accomplishment and connection to ducks and duck hunting.
Davis’ heart is with the future of waterfowl hunting.
“I’ve been with Delta for two years doing many things including corvid removal, trapping, and marsh management,” he said. “I have also been very active in the R3 program in Wisconsin through the University of Wisconsin system, as well as with the Wisconsin DNR.”
When he’s not working, you’ll likely find Davis walleye fishing in the summer, duck and deer hunting in the fall, and turkey hunting in the spring.
“I enjoy hunting the Delta Marsh, as well as the Mississippi River in Wisconsin,” he said. “I prefer to hunt over water instead of in fields, but won’t pass up a good field hunt. I enjoy hunting a variety of water bodies: rivers, potholes, lakes, marshes, ditches — wherever the ducks lead me.”
He says his favorite duck is the bluebill. He nearly always hunts in the company of his black Lab, Sprig.
Asked the one thing it would be impossible for him to give up, Davis’ answer was at the ready: Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” album.
Raised in the farmland of the Skagit Valley of Western Washington, Stephen Sowell grew up spending time in the woods and wetlands surrounding him. He was always fascinated by nature.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing in 2007, and spent the next few years working in the corporate world. His career path then took him north to Alaska where he soon moved to a position with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as the agency’s R3 program coordinator. (R3 the acronym for the movement to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters.)
With Delta launching its significant R3 initiative, Sowell accepted the role as The Duck Hunters Organization’s R3 program coordinator.
“What I love most about working at Delta Waterfowl Foundation is that I get to be a part of an organization focused on not only waterfowl production, but creating opportunity for hunters throughout North America.”
Sowell’s role is primarily focused on running two hunter recruitment efforts: First Hunt and the University Hunting Program.
“First Hunt is the largest waterfowl hunter recruitment program in the United States and Canada,” he said. “It plays an active role in bringing new hunters into the fold, so to speak. I am proud to be a part of the work Delta is doing to secure the future of hunting.”
Personally, he enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking and spending time with his wife Jessamyn, and their children: Emberly, Aveline, Malachi and Rhenley. The family also has a young chocolate Labrador retriever named Sitkoh.
Though Karol Jablonski has managed Delta Waterfowl’s human resources for more than two decades, she was unfamiliar with its mission when she applied for a position. The knowledge she gained during her job interview was impactful.
“I went home and said, ‘I want this job!’” Jablonski said. “I knew right away it was where I wanted to work. It’s been amazing watching the growth within Delta and the expansion of its efforts over the past 22 years.”
Jablonski has proven herself an outstanding manager of Delta’s employee roster and a trusted, likable, reliable colleague.
“I’m fortunate to work with an incredible group of people here at Delta,” she said. “I love being able to help the staff when they need something taken care of right away. I like being the person they know will go the extra mile to take care of their needs.”
A native of Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota, Jablonski enjoys cheering on her grandsons’ sports teams, bike riding, relaxing on the beach and geocaching with family.
Life on a farm and ranch in northeast Montana laid the foundations of hard work for Becky Bargmann. Even then, she had a passion for accounting and was encouraged by a high school business teacher to enter the field.
She attended the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, where she earned a double major in accounting and business administration.
“It’s a great field,” she said. “A business always needs a person to stay on top of the financial aspect of things.”
Bargmann worked at Farm Credit Services for 15 years, doing accounting and payroll for farms and ranchers, but decided she needed a change. She said that the role at Delta Waterfowl presented the perfect opportunity, and it has been a great fit.
When she’s not working, Bargmann spends time with family, which includes her husband and three children ages 8, 10, and 12.
“During the summer, you will find us at the lake camping, boating and fishing. We love to hike and enjoy looking for new national and state parks to check out on our summer vacations,” she said. “In winter, you’ll find us busy with 4-H archery and then the summer fair season. Our daughter shoots trap, so that keeps us busy in the spring. Our kids run our lives.”
Bargmann completed her hunter safety certificate, but so far has limited her pursuits to gophers in the back yard with a .22 or BB gun. She drew a deer tag for the fall, so bigger game seems to be in her near future.
If you’ve ever placed a call to Delta Waterfowl’s U.S. headquarters in Bismarck, North Dakota, odds are you’ve spoken to Stephanie Thompson.
“As the first point of contact for Delta Waterfowl, I strive to be knowledgeable and informative,” Thompson said. “It excites me as a support staffer that I can assist Delta in achieving its vision of abundant waterfowl and endless opportunities for hunters.”
Thompson arrived at The Duck Hunters Organization following a 22-year career in the conservation field, including 17 years at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Hunter Education section. She has an associate of applied science degree from Bismarck State College.
In her free time, Thompson enjoys softball, volleyball, bowling, camping, walking her two dogs, and enjoying the comforts of home with friends, family and a glass of wine.
Amy Austin grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, as no stranger to the sporting life. Her great grandmother, stepfather and brother in-law all hunted. However, her one foray afield led to the comment that she was “too noisy.” That didn’t stop her from appreciating the outdoors — her favorite scenic locations include Colorado’s Grand Mesa and Cimarron Range.
After earning a bachelor of science degree in business management, Austin discovered Delta Waterfowl while looking for a workplace that would suit her family’s needs. She has since come to further appreciate Delta’s conservation mission, finding it rewarding to help protect wetlands and waterfowl for future generations.
Austin is regarded by her colleagues as a team player and big-picture thinker who contributes skillfully toward the organization’s goals.
Raised on a farm along the Missouri River near Wilton, North Dakota, in 2004 Lori Schacher responded to a job listing in the Bismarck Tribune for a receptionist at Delta Waterfowl. She’s sure glad she did.
“I love working for Delta!” said Schacher, who now serves as donor relations manager. “What excites me most about Delta is what excited me from the beginning: I work with a group of people who work so hard together and care so much about Delta’s mission. It’s been simply incredible to watch how the organization has grown.”
Through working in a variety of capacities, Schacher has proven herself in a variety of roles and demonstrated a firm understanding of Delta’s mission and the values of its membership.
“I’ve been told I have great ‘institutional knowledge’ — I think that means I’ve been at Delta a long time,” she quipped. “I worked with the Board of Directors for several years, and I’ve worked with the development department almost from the start. When I assist the directors of development to achieve a positive outcome, I feel like I too have succeeded. I’m fortunate to work in a place where everyone is so appreciative and supportive of each other. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
On the weekends, Schacher enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, boating, fishing and relaxing at her childhood farm. She enjoys hunting ducks, pheasants and big game.
“Most of all, I like hunting deer and elk in a small town in the Black Hills where I lived for 12 years,” Schacher said. “It’s so beautiful there and rarely very cold.”
Delta Waterfowl has hired Todd Burns as development director for the Midwest region, as the organization continues to grow strong support for its conservation, hunting and waterfowl research programs.
A lifelong waterfowler, Burns will focus on major gift procurement in the upper Mississippi Flyway, particularly in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He brings more than two decades of experience in business development and non-profit fundraising to Delta, including more than 14 years of major gift procurement at universities in Wisconsin and Illinois. His interest in The Duck Hunters Organization stems from a 2018 youth waterfowl hunt with his daughter.
“It was then that I asked myself, ‘Why am I not using my knowledge and skills to enhance the sport I love?’” he said. “It was just a matter of time before the development director position at Delta Waterfowl was posted.”
Dr. Scott Petrie, chief executive officer, praised the unique qualifications Burns brings to Delta Waterfowl.
“Todd’s exceptional skills, record of accomplishment and passion for waterfowling make him a perfect fit,” he said. “I am certain he will help Delta continue to reach new heights.”
Burns lives in Illinois with his wife, Amy, sons Grayson and Joshua, and daughter, Aubrey. He most frequently hunts dry fields with his chocolate Lab, Piper, but best enjoys opportunities to slip on a pair of chest waders.
“There is a mystique about slipping into the water, with the unsure footing, and melting into the the reeds at the marsh’s edge,” he said. “Add a little steam coming off the water and whistling wings overhead, and well, you’ve found what I call ‘home’.”
To discuss donation options or planned giving, please contact Burns at (815) 953-1049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The intense focus on ducks and duck hunting is what excites Wade Greene about his role as development director for Delta Waterfowl. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, the position keeps him on his home turf covering the zone from Houston to New Orleans, Louisiana. He began working with Delta at the committee level in Baton Rouge in 2012.
Following his graduation from Louisiana State University in 2012, Greene has focused on a career in commercial real estate — and duck hunting — ever since.
“I have enjoyed a great career in commercial real estate and believe that not only the business skill set, but also the people I interact with in CRE, will be extremely helpful to my role in growing Delta here in Houston and New Orleans,” he said.
To bolster his connection to the passion, Greene has guided duck hunts for six years.
“Guiding has been another way to make waterfowl a special part of my life,” he said. “Now, making a difference to the ducks and duck hunters is all the more special because of it.”
His favorite hunting locale, as you might guess, is Louisiana and coastal Texas. He loves the diversity it offers including ag field pits, timber and coastal hunting. No matter where he’s hunting, one key to enjoying it all is good friends and company. His favorite ducks are pintails and wigeon.
When he’s not guiding or hunting, Greene enjoys spending time with his family, friends and dog — a 9-year-old German Shorthair named Wyatt. He also loves LSU football, Astros baseball and wade fishing.
You can reach him at email@example.com.
Growing up in Beaumont, Cory Henderson came to love duck hunting in the marshes and rice fields of southeast Texas. Those youthful haunts are still some of his favorite places to hunt, along the lakes and farm ponds in the Texas Cross Plains and on the marshes of the Upper Texas Coast.
With his passion for waterfowl hunting deeply rooted, Henderson moved to Fort Worth in 2006 to attend Texas Christian University. Upon graduating with a degree in political science and a minor in environmental science, he embarked on a career in nonprofit fundraising and development.
Prior to joining the Delta team, his most recent role was as leader of the development department at Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County. Before that, Henderson led development efforts at Recovery Resource Council and served as Development Officer United Way of Tarrant County.
“The opportunity to merge my fundraising career with my personal and lifelong passion for duck hunting is what makes this role at Delta so exciting for me,” he said.
With a proven track record of relationship development and cultivation throughout North Texas, Henderson focuses on a donor-centered approach.
“This is a great time to join Delta,” he said. “Being a part of this as we embark on rapid fundraising growth is inspirational. I look forward to seeing the benefit this strengthening capacity will provide for duck production and research. This is also true of the HunteR3 initiative, something I enjoy doing myself and of which I see the vital importance.”
When he’s not working or duck hunting, you’ll find Henderson waiting for the next duck season to open by bow-hunting for deer, bass fishing and fly fishing. He and his wife, Tara, enjoy a variety of outdoor activities together, especially in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. And he’s always on the lookout for new places to hunt and new experiences to enjoy with Scout, his 4-year-old Lab.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raised in Cedar Springs, Ontario, near the shores of Lake St. Clair and Roneau Bay, Scott McGuigan is Delta Waterfowl’s development director for Canada, with a focus on the Ontario and Alberta markets. Previously employed as a waterfowl guide and outdoor writer, he’s no stranger to the hunting community.
“I knew I wanted to continue working in the outdoor industry, and there’s no better organization than Delta Waterfowl to fulfill that passion,” McGuigan said. “Delta is growing rapidly in the Canadian marketplace, and it’s rewarding professionally to raise funds for Delta to recruit new waterfowlers, produce ducks and conserve habitat in Canada.”
McGuigan most enjoys engaging waterfowlers who are less familiar with Delta Waterfowl, and witnessing their excitement when informed of the organization’s mission to produce ducks and secure the future of waterfowl hunting.
“Seeing others become excited about what we do is one of the best parts of my job,” he said. “It’s rewarding to help affect changes that benefit ducks and duck hunters, to witness the fruits of our labors come to bear at such things as Delta First Hunt events, and to work in a field that’s my passion and profession.”
A graduate of Butler University, where he played varsity baseball, McGuigan enjoys fly fishing and hunting big game, upland birds over pointers, and of course, waterfowl.
Memories of hunting, fishing, Jacques Costeau, and Marlin Perkins set Dave Messics on a life’s path destined to be intertwined with conservation. He grew up in the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania learning about wildlife in every way he could.
Later, Messics earned a wildlife sciences degree with an environmental resource management minor from Penn State. He spent the next 30 years working for non-profits, mostly in the conservation arena.
As a lifelong waterfowler, he considers joining the Delta family to be the capstone of his career.
“I am able to get out of bed every morning knowing I’m helping to advance waterfowl conservation and to put more ducks over our decoys in the fall,” Messics said. “I consider that a true blessing.”
Those who have come to know Messics along his career path appreciate his passion for the outdoors, trustworthiness and impeccable integrity.
When he’s not developing major donors for Delta Waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway, you’ll likely find him on the water in one way or another. He enjoys fly fishing, and of course, duck hunting.
“I love hunting canvasbacks and bluebills,” Messics said. “It doesn’t really matter where, as long as I’m in good company.”
For many years, that good company was his now 12-year-old yellow Lab, Winston. Sadly, while the family was on vacation years back, Winston lost a leg in an accident.
“He recovered remarkably well and could run as fast on three legs as he did on four, Messics said. “He just couldn’t stop on a dime. We don’t let him run much any more now for fear of injury to one of his good legs, but we spent countless days in the fields and blinds in our younger days. He’s the best dog ever!”
Reach him at email@example.com.
Her connection with the outdoors is important to Whitlee LaMontagne. She grew up in Mandan, North Dakota. She loves spending time with her family in outdoor activities. That includes floating up or down the Missouri River and hanging out on its many sandbars.
On other days, she can be found working hard in the barn or traveling to horse shows around the United States and Canada taking care of her family’s five Arabian horses. She also enjoys spending time with their two toy Australian shepherds named “Obi” and “Lando.”
“My husband introduced me to Delta Waterfowl after he worked with them during an annual audit,” LaMontagne said. “My role as major donor data and research specialist gives me the opportunity to work with an incredible group of people each day with the same goals in mind. I am very detail-oriented, and really like to make a difference in what I do.”
She is a liberal arts (music) graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additionally, she has more than five years of finance and facilities management experience.
Professional development, improving her skills, and the ability to serve the cause better are all important to LaMontagne.
“I’m known for my outgoing personality and my ethic to work hard and do good work,” she said.
While she doesn’t hunt herself, LaMontagne said she appreciates the fruits of the hunters’ labors and enjoys stories about hunting. She loves to learn about Delta members’ hunting histories and passions.
What are two things she couldn’t give up?
“That would be Coca-Cola and T.J. Maxx,” she said.
Media & Communications
One of today’s most prolific and celebrated waterfowl writers, Paul Wait has been the editor of more than 230 outdoor magazine issues in his 24-year media career. He began as a newspaper journalist in 1995, after graduating from St. Cloud (Minnesota) State University’s nationally accredited journalism program as the top student across all five mass communication disciplines.
Wait entered the outdoors industry in 1999, and previously has been editor of The Trapper & Predator Caller, Wisconsin Outdoor Journal and Wildfowl. He’s been editor of Delta Waterfowl magazine since 2011.
“I love ducks and duck hunting, so to be able to write about the subjects every day feeds my passion,” said Wait, who was honored in 2017 with a Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Award. “I’m passionate about the traditions of duck hunting, and I continually seek unique stories to share with Delta’s members. I feel enormous satisfaction when a piece I put together connects and inspires.”
Wait relies on strong editing and writing skills to produce insightful waterfowl magazines, web stories, press releases, and video and marketing materials that apprise members of Delta’s mission and celebrate the waterfowling lifestyle.
A Wisconsinite, Wait draws inspiration from four decades of pursuing ducks across the public marshes, rivers and lakes near Green Bay. When Wait’s father took him duck hunting at his uncle’s marsh near Clintonville, Wisconsin, Wait continued a family waterfowling tradition that spans at least six generations.
“I enjoy hunting big diving ducks, particularly from a layout boat,” Wait said. “Not surprisingly, my favorite duck species are bluebills and canvasbacks, although I’ve never met a duck or goose I didn’t like.”
Married for 22 years with two teenage daughters, when Wait isn’t writing or hunting, you’ll find him at a basketball tournament, soccer game, swim meet, whipping up a meal in his kitchen or adding to his decoy collection.
Carrie Lapka brings years of graphic-design experience in the outdoor industry to Delta Waterfowl. As art director, she adds visual appeal to numerous print and digital Delta publications, including the award-winning Delta Waterfowl magazine.
“I am most passionate about presentation,” Lapka said. “Valuable information can get lost in a paragraph, and I pride myself on making documents come to life by presenting words visually, so important messages shine through. I feel fulfilled knowing my work impacts things I am passionate about: hunting, the outdoors and conservation.”
Raised in Shakopee, Minnesota, Lapka has a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in Graphic Design and Printmaking from Minnesota State University–Mankato. She arrived at Delta, she says, through “a good mix of hard work and fate.”
“I love feeling good about the Delta programs and team I am supporting each day,” Lapka said. “Making relevant, stand-out marketing materials comes naturally when I am committed to the mission and vision of the company I am creating them for.”
Lapka most enjoys hunting with her family by her side, preferring to hunt turkeys from a bale blind, deer from a treestand and waterfowl with her camera. During the off-season, you’ll find her at the family farm gardening, riding ATVs with her husband and three girls, or on a hiking trail.
Kyle Wintersteen has been an outdoor writer since 2004, arriving at Delta Waterfowl as managing editor in March 2015. His roles include producing stories, photos and content for Delta’s magazine, website and social media platforms, and assisting with marketing and public relations.
“I have three passions in life: outdoor writing, duck hunting, and waterfowl conservation,” Wintersteen said. “My role at Delta allows me to indulge all three interests, while giving back to waterfowl and the tradition of waterfowl hunting. I take the responsibility of providing Delta members with an informative, entertaining magazine very seriously.”
A central Pennsylvania native, Wintersteen grew up along the north branch of the Susquehanna. At age 13, he shot a black duck on the river, thus fueling a life-long fascination with all-things waterfowl.
“Black ducks have been my favorite species ever since,” he said. “Nothing makes me feel like I’ve done something right than decoying a flock of those wary, chocolate-colored birds.”
Wintersteen earned a degree in communications at Penn State University, where he was a member of the varsity track and field team. When he isn’t hunting ducks, he competes in English springer spaniel field trials. He has owned two field champions, including a National Open High Point Champion. He lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, with his wife, two sons and two springers.
Since age 11, Bill Miller knew he wanted to be an outdoor writer. He discovered that there were people whose career it was to head to Canada in the fall and hunt their way south filing newspaper reports as they went. As soon as he read that, it’s all he wanted to do!
Throughout high school and college, he tailored his education to achieve this goal. He graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in environmental communications from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Before finding a TV news job, he was hired as the associate editor of a budding hunting magazine in Minneapolis. For the next 28 years, he was with that publishing company, working his way up to the executive team as VP, media development and production, responsible for the editorial, art, production and television/video departments for 12 magazines. His work along the way included editor of North American Hunter magazine and host of their television shows on ESPN, Outdoor Channel and more.
Yet, Miller always had one passion: to simply be an outdoor writer.
“That’s what I love about my position at Delta. I’m finally a day-in, day-out writer,” he said. “It’s what I always wanted to do. Best of all, I get to do it in the company of a terrific group of people and for causes I believe in deeply. What could be better than to be the staff writer for The Duck Hunter’s Organization?”
As you can imagine, Miller is first and foremost a hunter, having hunted and/or wingshot competitively in 46 states and seven provinces over his career. He also enjoys fishing, clay target shooting, land management and geocaching — which is another form of hunting he’ll ramble on about for hours if you let him!
He and his wife currently own one English springer spaniel named “Karat,” although Miller is proud of a mantle full of hunt test and trial awards earned by Labs: Sadie, Belle, Huck, Dixie and Callie.
Growing up in Bismarck, North Dakota, Ben Peterson was almost literally raised on hunting and fishing. That outdoor background played a major role in charting the path of his education and career. To this day, the phrase “eat, breath, sleep” waterfowl describes his lifestyle.
“I love ducks. Period. Being able to make them a major part of my profession is very rewarding,” he said.
Waterfowl is a major part of his personal life, too. On the weekend, Peterson said you’ll find him on the road looking for waterfowl or training his top-notch retrievers.
“My favorite way to spend a weekend is hunting in the morning and relaxing with the family and pups in the evenings,” he said.
He developed a liking for photography early on, and it naturally merged with is passion for the outdoors. Peterson went on to study fine arts photography at Minnesota State University Moorhead, while at the same time building a freelancing photo and film career in the outdoor industry. The opportunity to join the Delta team was just too good to pass up.
“The coolest thing about outdoor photography and film-making is you get to bring to life those experiences that would otherwise just be memories,” he said. “I get to help tell the stories of Delta, hunters, what we do, and why we do it.”
Professionally, Peterson prides himself on finding a fresh take on the modern hunting world and then bringing it to life through imagery and films. He said that it’s great to be strapped and ready on the front lines of the duck world, whether it be the science or hunting parts of Delta’s work.
His favorite place to hunt is a wheat field in Canada in pursuit of snow geese.
“For some reason, those white devils keep me coming back time after time,” he said.
Two of his favorite hunting companions are his British Labradors, Xena and Chief.
Marketing & Membership
Hired in February 2018, Brad Heidel handles corporate partnerships and advertising sales for Delta Waterfowl’s award-winning membership magazine, as well as for the organization’s website, digital and special media projects. In addition, Heidel works with industry conservation partners to increase the impact of Delta’s innovative programs such as First Hunt, Hen Houses, Predator Management, Working Wetlands and Waterfowl Research.
“Delta’s continued growth and the changing dynamics around our marketing and advertising activities necessitated that we realign and add another professional to our staff,” said Alex Heiser, vice president of communications, marketing and membership. “Brad came to Delta with extensive experience in the outdoors industry, along with a strong sales background and a passion for waterfowl hunting.”
Heidel has worked in the non-profit conservation world throughout his career. He began with the Minnesota Wildlife Heritage Foundation, then became a regional director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He was director of corporate relations for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever for 10 years, and most recently, has served as executive director of the International Hunter Education Association.
“Conservation is my passion,” Heidel said. “Hunters are the greatest conservationists in North America, and I enjoy working with them.”
Heidel grew up in southern Wisconsin, where he began hunting ducks and geese near the state’s famed Horicon Marsh as a youngster.
“As a lifelong waterfowl hunter, who better to work for than The Duck Hunters Organization?” Heidel said. “I want to help put more ducks in the air and more hunters on the water.”
He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with wife, Karen, and a pair of Labrador retrievers, Oakey and Burger.
Bryce Seefeldt was drawn to Delta Waterfowl by the opportunity to introduce the next generation to duck hunting.
“I wanted the chance to make a difference for the future of waterfowling,” he said. “Not just work a job.”
After earning degrees in PR/Mass Communications from Moorhead State University and Commercial Art from Bismarck State College, he joined Delta Waterfowl as an event coordinator in 2012. Bryce’s professionalism and innovative thinking led to several promotions, including his current position as assistant director of marketing. Seefeldt leads and supports Delta Waterfowl’s marketing and fundraising activities, as well as event package procurement.
His favorite place to hunt is his family farm, with his yellow Lab, Max, at his side, where the fields of corn stubble draw late-season giant Canadas and mallards.
Seefeldt also enjoys fishing, golfing and spending time in the great outdoors with his wife and children.
Ashley Praus attended her local Delta Waterfowl event in Bismarck, North Dakota, for years before joining the organization as a full-time employee. A graduate of Bismarck State College with a degree in graphic design and communications, Praus’ creative skills deliver visually appealing marketing pieces and an engaging website.
“I love that technology and social media are constantly changing,” Praus said. “I learn something new almost every day.”
A waterfowler, Praus also enjoys fishing and camping with her husband, friends and black Lab, Achilles, and German shepherd, Rena. However, archery hunting is her favorite pasttime.
“It’s such an incredible rush sitting in a treestand watching deer come in only 20 yards from you,” she said. “It also excites me to shoot a duck or two. There’s really nothing better than watching how excited Achilles is from the moment we put our camo on in the morning to the actual hunt.”
Thanks to increasing support from duck hunters across North America, Stacy Pollestad has witnessed a sweeping expansion of the scope and mission of Delta Waterfowl since becoming an employee in 2003.
“I started as the data entry/mail clerk,” Pollestad said. “Now we have several people who primarily enter data and we’ve contracted with a firm to help handle our fulfillment operations. It’s exciting to see how much Delta has grown over the years.”
Raised on a farm near Hampden, North Dakota, Pollestad takes satisfaction in knowing that the funds she helps generate through membership outreach directly support Delta’s conservation mission.
“Coming up with new membership gifts and offers that appeal to our members is fun,” she said. “Execution is probably my biggest strength. Seeing a project through from point A to Z is something I enjoy.”
Pollestad keeps busy raising three active boys, and enjoys home improvement projects, crafts, and more recently, quilting.
A native of Bismarck, North Dakota, Julie Lagro was drawn to Delta Waterfowl because of its contributions to and historic role in conservation. In addition to her work experience as a membership data specialist, she’s taken an active interest in ongoing career training programs, a commitment that’s gained her a wide scope of technological expertise and workplace successes.
“I enjoy the challenge of learning something new every day,” Lagro said. “I’m dedicated to ensuring data integrity through timely, accurate entries and ongoing database maintenance, because I’m passionate about the Delta members whose contributions represent Delta’s core values.”
Lagro enjoys camping, lake activities, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her dog, Sadie.
Lisa Lawrence grew up in a hunting-oriented family on a dairy farm and ranch in Richardton, North Dakota. After earning dual bachelor’s degrees in English teaching and special education with an emphasis in communications, a friend told her about an opening for an events coordinator at Delta Waterfowl.
“When I learned the commonalities between what Delta Waterfowl stands for and the culture that I grew up in, I became interested in the organization,” Lawrence said. “I enjoy being part of an organization that affords the opportunity to keep the tradition of hunting alive — not only by helping those already hunting, but by providing youths and others with the satisfaction of experiencing their first hunts.”
Through her years of service, Lawrence has consistently demonstrated leadership, a strong work ethic and the ability to succeed in the face of challenges. As director of events fundraising, she relishes her role in helping her colleagues develop professionally, ensuring successful chapter events and promoting Delta’s mission on the local and national levels.
“I enjoy having a variety of responsibilities and working with a diverse amount of people,” she said. “Each day brings different opportunities. There is never a day that doesn’t offer some surprises.”
Additionally, Lawrence is the program director of Camp ReCreation, a summer camp for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two sons, skiing, fishing, boating, sitting around a campfire, and hunting ducks, geese, pheasants and doves.
Raised in rural Bowman, North Dakota, Lacee Dutchak moved to Bismarck after college graduation. Soon thereafter, a community connection led her to Delta Waterfowl: Her pastor’s wife told her that a Delta employee had mentioned an opening at the organization for an events coordinator.
“It was divine intervention,” Dutchak quipped. “I’ve enjoyed working behind the scenes, offering support to our regional directors as they work with volunteers to hold successful fundraising events. It’s motivating to witness chapters ‘on fire’ after they see their hard work pay off at an event — especially since they can use 15 percent of their revenue locally to promote duck hunting and waterfowl conservation.”
Dutchak adds that Delta offers an outstanding workplace environment for working parents.
“Everyone at Delta is very understanding when it comes to taking leave for my kids, whether it’s because they’re sick or due to a school closing,” she said.
In her spare time, Dutchak enjoys activities with her children and dog, Remington, going to the movies and cheering on the Minnesota Vikings.
Nicole Anderson credits her family and upbringing in the small town of Wilton, North Dakota, for instilling in her a love of hunting and wildlife. As a high schooler, she helped support her local chapter of Delta Waterfowl, then further pursued her interest in conservation by studying zoology, fisheries and wildlife at North Dakota State University.
After graduating in 2014, she was working as a bat and avian fatality research technician when she saw an opening for a fulfillment specialist at Delta Waterfowl.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
Given Anderson’s determination and ability to remain upbeat while overcoming challenges, she was promoted to event coordinator in 2017.
“With my background in hunting and science, I’m motivated by the fact that when I help local chapters hold successful events, it supports Delta’s waterfowl research,” Anderson said. “I feel the coolest thing about research is it’s always evolving, which leads you to continuously try new ideas and techniques. It makes my heart happy.”
Anderson enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching North Dakota State football, and hunting ducks, pheasants, doves and white-tailed deer. She’s particularly fond of hunting the river bottoms of central North Dakota.
“I love that I can see all different kinds of wildlife,” she said. “On any given day, I can see mule deer and whitetails, ducks, geese, turkeys, bald eagles, coyotes, foxes and badgers.”
Born in the United States and raised in Canada, Cher Gottfredsen began at Delta as a part-time office assistant, but her strong work ethic, willingness to learn and witty disposition earned a promotion to her current role.
“I am proud to contribute my talent and flair to help the Event, Development and Membership departments perform in unison to provide the funding that makes it all happen,” Gottfredsen said.
She cherishes being involved with an organization that truly values it mission. Though Gottfredsen does not hunt on a regular basis, “unless you count shoes,” she says, she’s hunted with Delta employees and had an especially enjoyable duck hunt in Tennessee on property owned by William Yandell, Chairman of the Delta Waterfowl Board of Directors. She has yet to shoot her first duck, but hopes to bag her favorite bird, the wood duck.
When not at work, she enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, fashion and spending time with her family.
A career path is often determined by networking, and that was certainly true for Maria Kincaid. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she lived in many areas of the country before returning to her home state to attend Louisiana State University. While earning a bachelor of science degree in natural resource ecology and management with a focus in conservation biology, she studied under Frank Rohwer, now president and chief scientist of Delta Waterfowl. A strong recommendation from Rohwer assisted Kincaid in securing the role of event coordinator for the organization.
Kincaid supports the regional directors and event staff to hold successful chapter fundraising events.
“The volunteers are so passionate!” she said. “I really enjoy hearing about their great fundraising events, knowing that they can use a portion of the funds locally. I appreciate that the work I do in conjunction with the regional directors is helping give back to ducks and duck hunters on the local and national levels.”
When she’s not in the office, Kincaid enjoys spending time with her husband and their dogs, hiking, swimming, birdwatching and gardening. She’s also recently begun duck hunting.
“My favorite waterfowl are teal,” she said. “They’re pretty and they taste great.”
Raised in Bismarck, North Dakota with a passion for waterfowl hunting, Danielle is a natural to join the Delta team as the Events Fulfillment Specialist. Her desire for doing hands-on work is also a bull’s eye for making sure event packages are sent correctly and on time. She enjoys learning new things and is a friendly colleague.
Danielle has two associate degrees – one in liberal arts and one in general science from Bismarck State College. She especially enjoys working in a team environment “where everybody may have different ideas you never thought of.”
She is married and enjoys waterfowl hunting with her husband. Her favorite hunting is on her grandparent’s farm for deer. She says, “I love to go hunting there. There are many deer blinds on their property which they have built.”
On a weekend when Danielle is not hunting you may find her camping or kayaking. She says she would find it impossible to give up, “Food! My favorite is pasta!”
Asked for the name of her dog, she says, “I don’t have one … YET!” with strong emphasis on the y-e-t!
Bryan Leach grew up in DeRidder, Louisiana, and started duck hunting in the southwestern marshes of the state with his father at age 5. Decades later, he remains an avid duck and specklebelly hunter.
Leach’s history with Delta Waterfowl dates to fall 2002, when he became a member. The following year he joined a local chapter committee in LaFayette, Louisiana. The grassroots approach to waterfowl conservation inspired him, so when he moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2006, he joined another committee, the Gulf Coast Chapter. By 2010, his skills and drive to succeed were recognized by Delta leadership, who invited him aboard as a full-time regional director.
“I really enjoy contributing to waterfowl conservation, so it means so much to me to be able to actually do it as my job,” Leach said. “Working with passionate duck hunters that have the same goals in mind is probably the most exciting. We have some really great people that volunteer for Delta.”
Leach owns three female black Labs: Belle, Rita, and his current duck dog, a 45-pound speedster named Brees.
“Brees is the best retriever I’ve ever owned,” he said. “I love watching her retrieve almost as much as I love to hunt waterfowl.”
When he isn’t hunting, Leach enjoys going to his camp near Thornwell with friends and family, and watching Louisiana State University football games.
After earning a Master of Science Degree in early childhood education from the University of North Dakota, Scott Terning moved from his hometown of Cokato, Minnesota, to Bismarck, North Dakota, to pursue professional opportunities. However, his career changed course when he attended a local conservation banquet and met an employee of Delta Waterfowl.
“He asked me to become involved in the newly established local Delta chapter, and I was all over that,” Terning said. “It’s a long story, but to keep it short and sweet, volunteering for the chapter led to a job offer in 2004, and the rest is history.”
Terning has skillfully advanced Delta’s chapter system across much of the U.S. prairies and beyond. He brings a variety of skills to the table, and his hard work, creativity and understanding of the duck hunting culture have brought innovative improvements to Delta’s grassroots network.
“The passion of our volunteers keeps me driving forward,” Terning said. “If not for them, Delta wouldn’t have its strong presence at the local level, where real impacts are made for youth and adult duck hunters and waterfowl initiatives. If it weren’t for volunteers’ local fundraising, Delta’s mission wouldn’t be succeeding for ducks and ducks hunters as effectively as it is today.”
Terning hunts ducks any chance he gets, starting with early season teal and transitioning to mallards over crop stubble. He especially enjoys hunting with his wife of 12 years, Beth, daughter Isabella, sons Ryan and Ethan, and black Lab, Kota.
“We’re already making memories to last a lifetime that will hopefully be passed on to our grandchildren as well,” he said.
Raised in Garner, North Carolina, Chris Williams developed a passion for coastal diver hunting early in life. It remains his favorite form of waterfowling.
“The sights and sounds of the Carolina marshes make it hands-down one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Williams said “I most enjoy hunting over a huge diver spread and sharing the blind with close friends, Delta committee volunteers and our children.”
After serving in the U.S. military and working seven years for the delivery arm of Papa John’s Pizza, Williams joined Delta nearly two decades ago as its original Atlantic Flyway regional director. His professional drive, direct communication style and courageous defenses of waterfowling have made him a critical asset to duck hunters in the East.
“I am most passionate about the continuation of our sport,” Williams said. “I’m very involved in policy and advocacy matters, all while concentrating on finding new ways to promote duck hunter recruitment and retention. I’m motivated by the volunteers I deal with daily. Seeing their desire to make a difference is what drives the truck home on those late-night road trips.”
Williams lives in Kenly, North Carolina, with his wife, three boys and a pair of black Labs. When he isn’t hunting canvasbacks or at a Delta Waterfowl event, you’ll find him coaching his sons’ baseball teams.
Since 2011, Jeff Adams has served as chairman of Delta’s Willard Peak Chapter in Brigham City, Utah. In addition to leading outstanding local conservation and hunter recruitment efforts, he assisted in the formation of three other Delta chapters. The skill, savvy and determination he demonstrated led Delta Waterfowl to offer him the role of regional events director for the western United States in 2017.
“As a volunteer, I bleed Delta Waterfowl every spare moment,” he said. “Waterfowl hunting is my absolute passion. I want to help other people have opportunities to experience it, too.”
Adams found Delta through a youth hunt he and his son participated in on the Great Salt Lake, and has been dedicated to the organization ever since. Increasing the number of chapters in the Pacific Flyway and recruiting new hunters through Delta’s chapter-delivered First Hunt program are top priorities, Adams said.
“Delta’s Waterfowl Heritage Fund sets the organization apart by allowing chapters to do projects locally, whether it’s nest structures, hunter access work or hunter recruitment programs,” he said.
Adams hunts all manner of waterfowl, from ducks to swans, but he most enjoys pursuing snow geese.
“My favorite place to hunt snows is the marshes surrounding the Great Salt Lake,” he said. “I am blessed to live in an area where we have access to hunting a variety of magnificent waterfowl species.”
Named “Conservationist of the Year” by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in 2016, Adams also served for eight years in the United States Marine Corps. He lives in Brigham City, Utah, with his wife of 25 years, Jenni. The couple has two grown children.
John Clements brings a strong conservation background to Delta Waterfowl. He recently retired from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, where he worked as chief conservation officer for the province. He also served as a conservation officer for 17 years in P.E.I., including six years as chief.
“I want people to recognize the value of hunting to conservation,” he said. “I really believe in the future of hunting, and I see an opportunity to get involved with a new generation of duck hunters.”
As a regional director of Delta Waterfowl, Clements works with chapters in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland/Labrador to conduct successful fundraising events to support Delta’s mission to produce ducks and ensure the future of duck hunting throughout North America.
“I most enjoy meeting new duck hunters, seeing kids smile when we take them hunting for the first time and watching people get excited about Delta’s programs,” he said. “I want to leave a path for youth hunters to follow. If we provide kids with positive experiences, when they’re adults they’ll contribute back to ducks and duck hunters.”
A native of P.E.I., Clements began hunting black ducks, geese and teal with his father when he was 14 years old. In 2000, he started a youth workshop in P.E.I., during which Delta Waterfowl took root on the island.
“About 100 kids a year take part in the event, and it’s still going,” he said.
Clements lives in Ancaster, Ontario, with his partner, Tracey, and a yellow Lab. He has five children, including two step-sons.
“I have a lot of passion for waterfowling,” he said. “I feel like I’m back home with Delta.”
Jason Douglas of Aubrey, Texas, owes his zeal for waterfowling to a devoted mentor.
“I grew up with a single mom for most of my childhood,” he said. “As a young boy, my uncle in Arkansas would take me hunting about once per year and send me hunting magazines and books that I would study. Then when I was 12, my mom married my step-dad — though I don’t say the ‘step’ part — and he took me waterfowl hunting several times a year, which allowed me to experience what I’d read. Once I was old enough to drive, my hobby turned into my obsession.”
Douglas’ father is also responsible for introducing him to Delta Waterfowl. In the fall of 2009, he accepted an invitation from him to attend the Lone Star Chapter of Delta Waterfowl’s event banquet.
“I filled out the white card to join the committee and the rest is history,” Douglas said. “I’d never heard of Delta Waterfowl until that evening.”
In 2013, he left his position in project management at a Fortune 500 company to join Delta as a regional events director. Given his path to duck hunting, Douglas was especially drawn to Delta’s First Hunt and other youth programs.
“I now look for ‘little Jason Douglas’ — youths that share a similar upbringing as me — and help provide them with hunting opportunities,” he said. “I am so proud to work for Delta, because of what we give back to our local chapters, kids, veterans and local communities.”
In addition to hunting waterfowl with his black Lab, Ruger, Douglas enjoys fishing, sailing, motorcycling and off-road racing.
Growing up in southwestern Minnesota, Carey Egeland was introduced to waterfowl hunting at a very early age by his father.
“Waterfowl were few and far between in our area then, but I always enjoyed going,” he said. “My dad did a good job instilling a code of hunting ethics and conservation values.”
Egeland attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, as a wildlife and fisheries sciences major. It’s also where his true love of waterfowl hunting really took shape. He remembers great field hunts for mallards and geese.
While attending SDSU, he completed summer internships with Delta Waterfowl in Minnedosa, Manitoba, working under Mike Buxton in a Predator Management study. It inspired him to help start the Brookings Chapter of Delta Waterfowl. He was chairman for three years, until graduation and beginning a job with South Dakota Game Fish and Parks.
Egeland also managed 400 Hen Houses in southwestern Minnesota, an experience solidified his support of Delta’s programs.
“I got to see firsthand how they affected duck populations where I grew up hunting,” he said. “I always enjoy going back and doing Hen Houses with my dad in the winter.”
In Aberdeen, he connected with the local Delta chapter and became chairman for two years. He views this experience as true testament to the quality of people in the Delta family. One of his favorite parts of working with the chapter was conducting their annual youth hunt.
“Putting in the work scouting and organizing was far outweighed by the smiles on the faces during and after the hunt,” he said.
As regional director, Egeland is responsible for enhancing the successes of programs, chapter development and event fundraising in the north-central region including North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing up in Arkansas, duck hunting has been a part of Chris Goss’s life as far back as he can remember. He cherishes those experiences growing up nearly as much as he appreciates sharing them with his own children.
Chris attended his first Delta event in Searcy, his hometown, in 2002-2003, but had no idea 16 years later that he would be chairing that same chapter. He had been an ardent Delta supporter and volunteer in many capacities in all those intervening years before becoming the Raft Creek Chapter chairma.
He calls himself a “people person.” Chris says, “I never meet a stranger. I can talk to anyone. This gets me in trouble with my wife sometimes because I tend to talk longer than she’s willing to wait!” He plans to use all those years of Delta committee work to the benefit of the chapters and committees in his Arkansas/Oklahoma region. He says, “I have the knowledge and experience to relate to each of the committee personnel.”
The Duck Hunters Organization is the right place for Chris. His greatest thrills in life are seeing young and new hunters experience the thrill of it all. He lives to share the fellowship and friendships, feel the excitement of birds working, and watch great dogs work.
Chris attended the McRae School from K-12 which he believes instilled an especially strong sense of hometown pride, small town values and willingness to help others. He then attended Arkansas State University – Beebe.
When he’s not working, you’ll find him camping, road tripping, working around his shop and yard and … of course … hunting. Among his favorite hunts are those on the Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA near Brinkley. He says, “Green timber hunting is very special to me. The cold, early morning boat rides to the holes, the fellowship with your buddies, cooking breakfast in the hole, seeing God paint the horizon as you await daylight and the first ducks of the day. And, of course, the best parts are seeing the dogs work and kidding your buddies about the ones they ‘let go.’”
Chris says the one thing he could never give up is his family – the two-legged members or the four-legged ones. They own three Labs – the chocolate, River, who is the momma and stays inside; another chocolate, Abby, who is the workhorse with lots of drive; and Opie, the black, with the most playful personality. And then there’s “the boss” of the operation, Baxter, a 7-pound miniature schnauzer who keeps everyone in line.
You can reach Chris Goss at: email@example.com
A fourth-generation duck hunter and father of three, Nic Hampton awaits the migration along the Mississippi River from his home in Burlington, Iowa. He became involved with Delta Waterfowl in 2012, when he founded and became co-chair of the Burlington-based Aldo Leopold Chapter. His successful leadership of the chapter, service in the U.S. Navy and 15 years of sales experience made him a great fit when Delta expanded its roster of regional directors in 2014.
“My goal is to continue growing new chapters across Iowa and Nebraska, and spreading the word that Delta Waterfowl really is The Duck Hunters Organization,” he said. “I especially love meeting new people through the chapter system and talking about their passions for waterfowling and the different styles of hunting in their areas.”
Hampton takes professional pride in helping local chapters introduce new duck hunters to the sport and boost duck production in their region.
“There’s nothing better than seeing Delta’s Hen Houses and wood duck boxes actually being used and making more ducks,” he said. “I’m also very happy and feel fulfilled when our chapters help youngsters become proficient with duck and goose calls, when I see a youth hunter shoot their first duck or goose, or seeing the smile on a kid’s face when he or she wins a gun at one of our chapter events. It hits home, because I have kids and was introduced to hunting when I was very young also.”
When he’s not working, you’ll find Hampton fishing during the summer months and duck hunting with his black Lab, Boone, as much as possible during the fall.
“I love hunting the Mississippi River for puddle ducks and divers, but grew up mainly field hunting for big honkers in Iowa and Illinois,” Hampton said. “My favorite duck is the drake wood duck, because in my opinion it’s the most beautiful and delicious.”
Prior to his current role, Matt Kneisley was one of Delta Waterfowl’s hardest working volunteers. In 2010, he helped found the Lancaster Chapter of Delta Waterfowl, the first local chapter in Pennsylvania — a foothold that’s led to numerous chapters throughout the state. Additionally, he coordinated Delta’s Northeast Advanced Volunteer Program from 2012 to 2014. But Kneisley wanted more, explaining to chief operating officer Jason Tharpe that he desired a full-time role.
“Jason issued me a challenge,” Kneisley said. “Start enough chapters in the Northeast that he’d be forced to hire another regional director.”
So, from 2011 to 2014, Kneisley assisted in the formation of dozens of new chapters in his region and helped several existing chapters to further flourish. Meanwhile the Lancaster Chapter, with Kneisley as chairman, launched Delta Days — a massive, annual event for new waterfowlers that remains a blueprint for other chapters’ youth and First Hunt events. Tharpe made good on his promise, hiring Kneisley in March of 2014.
“To me, Delta is not work, but family, and from my Delta coworkers to our volunteers, my family has now expanded into the hundreds,” Kneisley said. “Professionally, I’m most motivated by Delta’s hunter recruitment efforts. I live for introducing newcomers of all ages and genders to the outdoors, seeing the excitement of first-time hunters and the close bonds formed by the experience.”
Kneisley is also a third-generation decoy carver. He grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and made weekly trips with his father to famed decoy carvers’ shops in Havre de Grace, Maryland, including those operated by Madison Mitchell, the Jobes family, Bill Collins, Jimmy Pierce, Paul Gibson and Pat Vincenti. His wife, Kerri, is the executive director of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.
In addition to carving his own decoys, Kneisley further keeps waterfowling traditions alive by operating a bushwhack boat and body booting for canvasbacks on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.
Raised on a farm in central Alberta, Emily Lamb has a degree in wildlife and forestry conservation as well as animal sciences. She arrived at The Duck Hunters Organization by way of Delta’s Calgary Wild Wings Chapter, where she volunteered for a number of years before applying for the position of regional director.
“I’m passionate about representing the hunting community and dispelling the misinformation that the general public is fed by questionable sources,” Lamb said. “It’s exciting to change someone’s perception of sportsmen. Hunting is conservation, and hunters deserve that story to be told.”
Lamb speaks from experience. Despite lacking an outdoors mentor, the self-taught hunter and angler is also regarded as one of the most skillful trappers in Alberta.
“I have always believed that to speak on a topic, I need to have experienced it for myself,” she said. “I pushed to gain skills in hunting and trapping, and I believe that gained me a reputation of integrity in the professional world and gives me the confidence to never back down when representing the conservation community.”
When Lamb isn’t hunting with her black Lab, Tony, she enjoys “cooking good food for good people,” gardening, camping, playing music and reading.
Long-time regional director Scot Marcin has spent his career launching and revitalizing local Delta Waterfowl chapters across much of the United States. More recently, the rapid expansions of Delta’s event staff and chapter system have led Marcin to concentrate his efforts on his home state of Tennessee and Kentucky.
“I’m highly motivated by seeing Delta volunteers achieve their goals and make a difference in the lives of duck hunters and future hunters,” Marcin said. “I value that Delta Waterfowl gives people the ability to help make ducks and protect waterfowl hunting for the next generation.”
After attending college at Tennessee Technological University, Marcin volunteered for his local chapter of Delta Waterfowl. His talents and passion were soon noted by Delta staff.
“I’ll never forget when I was given the opportunity to join the Delta team,” he said. “I believe in giving back to the sport, not just taking. It means the world that I’m able to do just that through my profession.”
When he isn’t working with Delta volunteers, Marcin enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his family, working on the farm or hunting ducks with his black Lab, Ripple.
“If I had to choose a favorite style of hunting, it would be busting greenheads in flooded timber,” he said.
Delta Waterfowl welcomed Brian Moyse as a regional events director in the Upper Midwest in January 2018. Moyse works with chapters in Illinois and Indiana to conduct successful fundraising events to support Delta’s mission to produce ducks and ensure the future of duck hunting throughout North America.
He lives in Rockton, Illinois, but his waterfowl hunting roots stem from living during childhood on the St. Lawrence River in New York. Moyse also lived in northern California for eight years, where he experienced the gamut of waterfowl hunting in the Pacific Flyway.
“I’ve gotten so much out of waterfowling personally,” he said. “As a regional director for Delta, I have the opportunity to have an impact and give back to waterfowling.”
Moyse has worked as a pharmaceutical and medical equipment sales representative, and also trained retrievers professionally for 10 years.
He’s looking forward to building relationships with existing chapter leaders and working to grow strong support for Delta to advance conservation programs and recruit new hunters.
“I’m excited to help chapters make a difference for ducks and duck hunters on a local level,” Moyse said.
A talented decoy carver, Moyse is also a family man. He’s celebrating 25 years of marriage to his wife, Tracy. The couple has a 23-year-old son, Ben, and a 2-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, Gus.
Growing up in the shadow of Niagara Falls, Blake Schmirler knew at an early age the course for his career. Working in the trades, his dream was to turn his passion for waterfowl into his everyday job. Without a biology background, he chose to get involved by volunteering on the fundraising side of the equation.
“I knew this was a way I could make a positive impact in supporting waterfowl,” he said. “It would also be a great way to learn, grow, and develop the skills needed to be a Regional Director. In January, 2019 I realized my goal, and have been enjoying every day since!”
The ability to share his personal adoration and passion for waterfowl and waterfowl hunting excites Schmirler. Passing it along to others and seeing them take off with it gives him great pride. He knows that he is making a difference in waterfowl conservation with every dollar raised.
He sees the most important attributes for a Delta regional director as a positive attitude and consistency.
“I always try to stay calm,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of ups and downs in this job, so being consistent is a priority.”
As for his personal hunting passion, Schmirler says he has a difficult time picking a favorite.
“It’s a tough call,” he said. “One of the great things about living in Ontario is that we have every style of waterfowl hunting available to us, from early season honkers in cut wheat fields to late-season sea ducks on Lake Ontario.”
If forced to choose, “It would be late-season canvasbacks and redheads on Lake Erie,” he said. “There is just something about having ice hanging off your boat and watching those flocks come into the decoys. I wait for those hunts all year long.”
Schmirler enjoys fishing with his dad, playing hockey and baseball, and getting out to ice-fish. More than anything else, he says he enjoys spending time with family and friends making great memories.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Franz Schnabl began duck hunting at age 10 when his uncle took him to the blind for the first time. Growing up in Corinth in northeast Mississippi, abundant opportunity has fueled his 30-plus year love of waterfowl and hunting. In his desire to give back and make conservation a priority, he founded the Alcorn County Chapter of Delta Waterfowl in 2013.
Schnabl is a graduate of Corinth High School and studied forestry at Northeast Mississippi Community College. An entrepreneur at heart, he opened and managed several new businesses in his hometown.
“I’m extremely passionate about introducing youth and non-hunters to the sport,” he said. “I get excited by the enthusiasm and passion of Delta volunteers to preserve the heritage and future of ducks and duck hunting.”
A self-described “people person,” Schnabl brings knowledge of waterfowling and keen leadership abilities to his role as regional director for Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
“It’s all about motivating hunters to create their own local chapters to preserve the future of waterfowl hunting for future generations,” he said.
Schnabl’s favorite place to hunt is Canada, but hunting mallards in flooded timber is his favorite style of hunting. His favored hunting companion for many seasons was a now-deeply-missed English springer spaniel named Ringo.
If he’s not hunting or spreading the word about Delta, you can find him socializing with family and friends or traveling to exciting new places. His favorite way to spend the weekend is relaxing on the patio, grilling and entertaining guests. When you meet Schnabl, ask why he’s known to his friends as “Uncle Rico.” There has to be a good story in that!
Contact him at email@example.com.
Born and raised in Middle Tennessee, just south of Nashville, Garrett Trentham moved to North Carolina in high school and attended North Carolina State University. While enrolled, he began volunteering for the Triangle Chapter of Delta Waterfowl and oversaw its climb to the Atlantic Flyway’s top chapter and No. 3 nationwide in fundraising. During that time, he also spent a summer as a Delta Waterfowl research technician in North Dakota and Saskatchewan, studying Predator Management under Mike Buxton, waterfowl programs manager for Delta Waterfowl.
Trentham’s talent, work ethic and knowledge of Delta Waterfowl make him an outstanding fit in his regional director role.
“Starting from the ground and working my way up at Delta has allowed me to have a foundational understanding of what drives us as The Duck Hunters Organization,” Trentham said. “That makes it much easier for me to communicate our vision and goals to average duck hunters. I’ve seen so much of the work we do first hand, from Predator Management and Hen Houses as a research tech, to fighting Sunday hunting bans in the Atlantic Flyway and helping to coordinate First Hunt events as a volunteer.”
A passionate duck and snow goose hunter, Trentham relishes the opportunity to help Delta secure the future of waterfowl hunting.
“From day one, my motivation for getting involved with Delta was to ensure that 100 years from now, we still have duck hunters introducing our sport to the next generation,” he said. “Our chapters make that a priority 365 days per year. Working alongside them to attain their goals is extremely rewarding.
A native of South Dakota, about twenty years ago Derron Wahlen found himself at the University of Arizona, pursuing a degree in molecular and cellular biology with an intent to go to medical school.
“I quickly learned I’d taken South Dakota duck hunting for granted,” he said. “I also had to work in college to keep the sandwiches from getting too thin, and found myself employed in the outdoor industry. Once I got a taste of working with hunters to raise funds for conservation, I never looked back at healthcare.”
Wahlen accumulated more than a decade of event fundraising, chapter coordination and conservation organization experience in Arizona, but longed to return to his beloved Midwest. So, he relocated to Minnetonka, Minnesota, with his wife, son and daughter, and continued to work in the hunting industry. In 2015, a professional colleague familiar with Wahlen’s career experience and passion for waterfowling alerted him to a newly created position at Delta Waterfowl: regional director of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“I very much feel part of the growing Delta family,” he said. “It’s a challenging job, but at the same time I feel like I’m at home with Delta Waterfowl. I’m passionate about helping people understand who Delta is and what we do, so they know where their hard-earned conservation dollars are going when they support The Duck Hunters Organization.”
A lifelong waterfowler, Wahlen most enjoys setting up for mallards in a Midwest crop field, followed closely by a diver hunt just ahead of the freeze.
“The sights, sounds, smells and all that goes along with fall in the Midwest are something special,” he said. “Spending a weekend of duck hunting with my son in October or November is as good as it gets.”
As a third generation Delta Waterfowl employee, The Duck Hunters Organization is in Kevin Ward’s blood. His grandfather, Edward Ward, was a gamekeeper at the Delta Waterfowl Research Station at Manitoba’s Delta Marsh, while his father, Peter Ward, worked with Delta’s first chief scientist, Albert Hochbaum, on numerous ground-breaking advances in waterfowl science.
While he was a teenager, Ward worked part-time at the Delta Waterfowl Research Station, performing building and grounds maintenance duties. After studying biology at the University of Minnesota and University of Texas, he became a full-time employee in 1973, making him Delta’s longest-serving employee.
“I do just about anything at Delta Marsh along the lines of maintenance, including vehicle repair, woodworking, construction and electrical work,” Ward said. “More recently, I am best known for building the Delta Hen Houses that increase nesting hen survival and nest success in the prairie pothole region. I also manage areas of the marsh to provide enhanced habitat for the fall migration. It excites me to see the hundreds of green-winged teal and other dabblers select my managed sites, knowing I made them more attractive to migrating waterfowl and birds in general.”
Ward enjoys birdwatching, studying plant and animal communities, and hunting canvasbacks, redheads and scaup at the Delta Marsh. He’s owned numerous retrievers over the years, and most fondly recalls a black Lab, Skip.
“She had an amazing nose,” Ward said. “One spring, she began digging in a snowdrift along the marsh road and came running back with a cell phone that a Delta student had accidentally dropped the previous fall.”
Considering her deep love of ducks and the outdoors, working onsite at Delta Marsh is truly the dream job for Amanda Szadowski.
“I am passionate about the ducks,” she said. “Working here keeps me learning every day. I love being a part of the whole process — from watching the ducks nest to watching the broods swim. I find every aspect is rewarding.”
Raised in the small village of Ethelbert, Manitoba, Szadowski is an accomplished outdoorsperson. She’s a licensed trapper and hunting guide.
“I’m pretty darn good at it, too!” she said.
Szadowski went to school for nursing and worked in long-term care for 15 years before her current position with Delta came along. She enjoys coming to work every day, and seeing the improvements, progress and possibilities of the Marsh.
It makes sense that Szadowski’s favorite place to hunt is the Delta Marsh. She especially likes shooting canvasbacks and teal with her black Lab, Remington, by her side. She learned to hunt near St. Ambroise, Manitoba, and would love to travel more widely to hunt ducks. She’d also like to try hunting big game.
When she’s not on the marsh, you can likely find Szadowski on the beach, on her quad, or spending time with her two daughters, family and friends. She’s also a heck of a cook!