In summer of 2015 Lena Vanden Elsen shared this message and her Dip Your Paddle photo on Twitter: “GPSing wetlands with my handy paddle in Reston MB @ducksunlimitedcanada @DUCanada #DipYourPaddle #conservationagreements #lovemyjob”
The DUC conservation programs specialist based in Brandon, Man. was surveying a candidate property for DUC’s conservation agreement program when she felt compelled to pose with a paddle. But this is no ordinary paddle. The paddle is travelling around the province, in the hands of passionate employees like Lena.
In fact, a total of nine paddles – emblazoned with the DUC logo and the words, Rescue Our Wetlands – have made their way in every province as part of the #DipYourPaddle campaign. This social media campaign is taking the concept of the obsequious “selfie” one step further: showcasing the many ways wetlands contribute to our lives, and bringing attention to DUC’s conservation work in a personal way.
“Every day, our work benefits places and people all across the country,” says Greg Siekaniec, DUC’s chief executive officer. “#DipYourPaddle is our chance to share our stories about the benefits of wetland conservation to a wider audience. Best of all, these stories are being told by the dedicated people who are working every day to make it all happen.”
The #DipYourPaddle initiative continues the momentum of a month-long staff engagement campaign held in spring 2015. DUC employees pledged $850,000 for Rescue Our Wetlands. Eighty per cent of staff also committed the gift of time by volunteering: assisting their local fundraising event committee or at a mentored hunt, helping with project maintenance, completing administrative tasks and more.
Vanden Elsen’s photo, and others like it from staff across the country are being shared on social media using the #DipYourPaddle hashtag. They are posing with the paddle at wetland project sites, in canoes, from winter wheat fields and northern lakes, and even while balanced on stand up paddleboards.
So far, the paddles have visited more than 80 locations across Canada. DUC’s GIS (geographic information system) department has created a story map to share the locations and stories to go with each #DipYourPaddle photo.