This coming Sunday, January 29, marks a momentous day in the history of waterfowl conservation. And in conservation history in general. The date marks Ducks Unlimited’s 80th anniversary.

Started by a small group of sportsmen on a mission to save North America’s waterfowl populations—and the continent’s strong waterfowling traditions—DU was founded in 1937 during the Great Depression. It was also founded during one of the worst droughts in history—far from ideal circumstances for an organization in its infancy, especially one of this kind.

“DU’s 80th anniversary is a milestone in conservation history,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “This anniversary would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers and supporters, as well as the many agency and organizational partners who, time and time again, have helped us succeed in our mission.”

DU is celebrating 80 years of conservation success due to the tireless support and efforts of generations of DU members, volunteers, and partners who have championed the organization’s critical conservation mission to conserve and restore wetlands and other vital habitats for North America’s waterfowl.

Over the last 80 years, DU has completed more than 100,000 conservation projects and conserved more than 13.8 million acres across North America through on-the-ground, science-based conservation work.

“For 80 years, the men and women of Ducks Unlimited have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the states, and our counterparts in Canada and Mexico, playing a vital role in successful efforts to conserve and protect North America’s waterfowl populations and wetland habitat for future generations,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “As we work to address the conservation challenges of the 21st century, DU’s conservation work and the support of its members have never been more crucial.

“On behalf of the Service, I want to congratulate DU for reaching this milestone, and thank the entire organization and its members for your advocacy, passion, and commitment to conservation.”

The anniversary also coincides with DU’s latest campaign, “Rescue Out Wetlands: Banding Together for Waterfowl.” The $2 billion continental campaign was launched two years ago at the organization’s 78th annual convention in Milwaukee and is one of the most ambitious conservation campaigns ever undertaken. Funds raised through the campaign will be used to conserve vital wetlands and other wildlife habitats on North America’s most important waterfowl landscapes.

“Every DU member, partner, and supporter has a role to play in ‘Rescue Our Wetlands’ and can help us achieve our conservation priorities of protecting, restoring, and enhancing critical wetland habitats across the continent,” Hall said. “While this anniversary is a landmark for the organization, we must not lose sight of how we arrived where we are today: the hard work of volunteers and partners. We must all continue to do our part, right now, to ensure wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.”

To help celebrate the milestone, Ducks Unlimited’s magazine, website, and social media outlets will be featuring anniversary stories and promotions. The organization will officially celebrate its 80 years in conservation during its 80th national convention in San Antonio May 31 through June 4.

For more info on DU’s historic milestone, visit today.