Posted on April 1, 2015 by By Kristin Ryerson ’15, DelVal Ducks Unlimited president and co-founder.
In the fall of 2012, Chris Adams ’13 and I founded the DelVal chapter of Ducks Unlimited, the world leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. As part of the national organization, the chapter’s main focus is to raise funds to help preserve wetlands and support research throughout North America. Each November the chapter has its annual Sportsmen’s Dinner where we raffle off outdoor gear, artwork and more to raise approximately $3,000 each year. The club also participates in trips to observe waterfowl and educates the public on the importance of conserving wetlands. This spring will be the second season of the chapter’s Wood Duck Nesting Box Project. The Pennsylvania Game Commission donated wood duck boxes, which are used to help nest success rates. They were installed at the Gemmill Farm and Peace Valley Park. This semester, the chapter will be attending the Pennsylvania Ducks Unlimited State Convention and will be raffling off a restored 1966 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle at A-Day, which was donated in honor of my father, Gary Ryerson, a lifelong supporter of Ducks Unlimited.
This past summer I had the opportunity to be a waterfowl technician for Ducks Unlimited in North Dakota. I also volunteered for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife during the past two winters to assist with banding American Black Ducks. Black duck populations have declined by as much as 60 percent in traditional wintering areas, therefore, it is very important to take data on the ducks that winter in New Jersey, as well as other neighboring states. I was very excited to bring a group of members to assist the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Waterfowl Technicians in the banding of black ducks. Leg bands are aluminum, ring-like objects that are placed on ducks’ legs. The bands allow scientists to estimate survival probability, age and migration routes. Along with banding the ducks, the club members also learned how to age and sex the ducks, and observe how to weigh them and crop them, meaning how to determine how full the duck’s crop is, or how much it had recently had to eat.
Overall it was a wonderful opportunity for the club, and I hope they will be able to participate in duck banding every year!