Chris Nickless, chair of the local Ducks Unlimited chapter, congratulates Gord Parent on winning a draw prize during the banquet in 2019. (Brendan Kyle Jure photo)

Local fundraiser supports wetland conservation

‘A Leapin Lotta Fun’

By Raven Nyman

For their 35th annual Dinner and Auction, the local Ducks Unlimited chapter plans to bring a “Leapin’ Lotta Fun” to the South Cariboo. This weekend, the dinner and auction will take place at the 100 Mile Community Hall to raise funds for local wetland conservation.

The Ducks Unlimited Dinner and Auction will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29 this year, which is also Leap Day, an occasion that occurs just once every four years.

“It’s shaping up to be a really great event,” says Chris Nickless, chair for the local Ducks Unlimited chapter. “You’re guaranteed to have an evening full of fun, great food from the Red Rock Grill, and the chance to win a lot of prizes.”

Nickless says his chapter always hosts fun events, so this year’s theme was a natural choice.

“We figured we’d capitalize on the Leap Year,” says Nickless, who has been involved with the local Ducks Unlimited chapter for 11 years. Since 1984, they have raised over half a million to support local conservation efforts in the area, with a focus on protecting birds and waterfowl.

The annual dinner and auction typically draw in over 130 guests, who participate in a variety of games such as pyramid draws, 50/50 draws, a banner auction, and more.

This year, Clinton’s Russell Allison will return as the event’s auctioneer.

“We have a lot of new prizes and a lot of new auction items, new original exclusive Ducks Unlimited merchandise, new prints, some original artwork. Actually, this year is probably the largest amount of donations that we’ve ever received.”

Despite the closure of nearby sawmills in 2019 and a struggling resource sector, Nickless says that support for charities in the South Cariboo has remained strong, which reassures him.

“We have a lot of supporters in the area [who know] the good work that Ducks do in wetlands conservation. We have a number of projects in this area.”

Some of the chapter’s conservation projects include the 100 Mile Marsh, the 130 Mile wetlands, Walker Valley, and Sucker Lake.

These conservation efforts wouldn’t be possible without the community’s support, says Nickless: “We just can’t do it without [them] and the donations we get from the businesses, but also from the folks attending the auction, bidding on items, and playing all of the games that we have.”

Last year, auction guests were encouraged to dress up in camouflage attire for the event, but this year, there is no specific dress code required.

“It’s whatever you want,” says Nickless. “We just call it, ‘Cariboo Casual.’”

Doors open for the Ducks Unlimited Dinner and Auction at 5:30 p.m. with the meal scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the auction to follow. Alcohol will be available, with a bar run by the 100 Mile House Lions Club.

Nickless advised that some tickets are still available for $40 at Donex in 100 Mile House, however, the event typically sells out fast, so you’ll want to confirm your seats soon to attend.

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