Life is busy, there’s no question about it. It can often feel as though our lists of places to go, people to see and the collection of personal and professional commitments that fill our schedules leave little time for activities like volunteering. But the urge to give back is a strong one, particularly if you’ve previously shared your time and have seen what an impact your efforts can make.
In honour of National Volunteer Week, I encourage you to make time for the charitable causes close to your heart. Volunteering keeps you connected to your passions. It opens new opportunities. It fuels your mind and body. It’s a source of fun and fulfillment. And I can tell you from personal experience that none of these benefits should be underestimated. Because the choice I made at the tender age of 16 to volunteer with one of my favourite organizations proved to be the first step in a humbling journey. One that’s delivered me to the CEO’s desk at Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC).
The sixteen-year-old Larry Kaumeyer was a kid crazy about the outdoors. Hunting, fishing and roaming the wilds of my family’s farm captivated my imagination and sparked an unshakeable curiosity about the natural world. So, one evening, I tagged along with my father to attend a meeting of DUC’s Chinook Drakes, a volunteer committee based in Calgary. Here, I’d spend several years helping raise funds for wetland conservation. Along the way, I had the good fortune of learning from fellow outdoorspeople. I’d hang on every word of their tales from the field while gaining a deeper appreciation of the conservation activities for which we were raising money.
Over the years and during my travels across Canada, my volunteerism with DUC has also included serving on the Markham, Ontario Committee as well as the Edmonton St. Albert Committee, working alongside members that would meet on weekends to pull purple loosestrife, an invasive plant species. Each meeting provided me with the opportunity to meet tremendous individuals and volunteers who all had a similar love for conservation and supporting our vital wetlands.
Later in life, as I had kids of my own, volunteering with DUC’s youth education programs was a way for me to instill these same conservation values and pay forward what others had done for me. Throughout my life and career, DUC was always there. Joining forces with a local volunteer committee provided me with a sense of belonging. And, quite simply, giving back felt good. When I visited my favourite wetland or explored a new one, the tangible results of my actions were right beneath my feet.
So, when I was presented with the opportunity to serve as DUC’s CEO in the fall of 2021, it was a full circle moment. And as CEO, I will continue to champion the important role volunteers play in advancing our mission.
To all the incredible DUC volunteers across the country, and indeed all volunteers who give generously to a variety of causes in their communities, please know that you are a true testament to the good that happens when people work together toward a common purpose. Never underestimate the impact of your actions. Today, tomorrow and years down the road, the benefits of your volunteer experiences may surprise you. Mine certainly have—and for that, I’m forever grateful.
If you care about the outdoors, wildlife and the environment, you belong with DUC. Tell us what kind of volunteer activities you’re interested in and help us grow our volunteer program with new ways to support conservation. Complete our short survey here and consider joining our flock.