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New kids on the marsh: Kellys Slough Chapter of Delta Waterfowl does part for habitat and hunting

Brad Dokken
Grand Forks Herald - 09/28/2008

They're young, most of them haven't seen their 30th birthday, but members of the Kellys Slough Chapter of Delta Waterfowl are becoming seasoned veterans at doing good things for habitat and ensuring the sport of hunting has a future.

It's been that way since the Grand Forks-based chapter formed about four years ago. Using money they've raised at their annual banquets, the chapter has spent more than $12,000 on projects around northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

That includes buying, erecting and maintaining nesting structures for ducks, supporting youth outdoors events and investing money in waterfowl research with scholarships for graduate students working on projects in northeastern North Dakota.

According to Matt Vanderpan, Grand Forks, acting chapter president, it's all about giving back to something for which they all share a passion.

"It's a really fun group of guys," Vanderpan, 29, said. "We just want to get as many people involved in the outdoors and use our chapter to be involved. We welcome anyone that wants to come in, whether they're a duck hunter or not."

The chapter now is gearing up for its annual fall banquet. This year's event is set for Oct. 7 in the Grand Forks Ramada Inn. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7.

The chapter is limiting the banquet to 200 tickets, Vanderpan said. Because it's a school night, the event should be wrapped up about 9 p.m.

"We try to make the banquet appealing to more than just a guy's night out," he said.

There's certainly incentive for kids to attend. This year, Vanderpan said, the first 60 youths age 16 or younger will receive a half-dozen mallard decoys. There's also a slew of other prizes that cater to kids, along with the usual assortment of guns and gear.

"We're focused on youth," Vanderpan said. "That's the future."

A lifestyle

Chris Lillehoff, a chapter member originally from Fargo, said he joined about three years ago. A firefighting student at Northwest Technical College in East Grand Forks, Lillehoff, 22, said Delta appealed to him because it's more than just a campus chapter, even though most members are college-aged.

Besides providing an outlet for meeting like-minded people, Lillehoff said the chapter gave him a purpose in his spare time.

"The guys in our chapter, it's not just, 'hey, let's go shoot some ducks,' " Lillehoff said. "It's a passion. It's not about numbers; it's more about the lifestyle."

That doesn't end with the banquet. The chapter meets throughout the year, Vanderpan says, and they'll go to work after the banquet deciding how to spend proceeds from this year's event. They've already earmarked $2,000 this fall for youth-related projects.

"That's the nice thing about Delta - 25 percent of the money stays with the chapter and they get to choose how it's spent," Vanderpan said. "It's something that's up to us."

Future projects

Vanderpan says the chapter has talked about hosting an outdoor education event for fifth- and sixth-grade students or, perhaps, serving as mentors for young people who don't have parents to get them involved in the outdoors.

And there's always a need for habitat work.

"I think the projects are a lot of fun," Lillehoff said. "It's good stuff. No harm is done by helping wildlife."

It's not all work, of course. Vanderpan and Lillehoff say chapter meetings usually give way to hunting and fishing stories once they've tended to business.

"A lot of us hang out together and hunt together," Vanderpan said. "It's a good way to meet new people - meet new hunting buddies."

And there's always room for more.

"More hands make lighter work," Vanderpan said.

n On the Net:

Delta Waterfowl:

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to [email protected].

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Great Job Guys... You guys have done a lot over the years and it isn't slowing down anytime soon.

You guys put on some class act events as a chapter and it can't be done without vol. and local support.

If you live in the Grand Forks area, I would encourage you to attend the chapter banquet coming up - it's a family style event and most of all it helps out with projects that were listed above in the article.


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Bravo guys!!

Although theres no way that was actually Lilly giving those answers ..that guy actually sounded like he knew what he was talking about.. :p
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