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REMER, Minnesota – Minnesota’s Big Rice Lake was the backdrop recently for an event to honor a big-time conservationist. Ducks Unlimited volunteers and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources gathered to honor the contributions of Georgia DU supporter Tommy L. Williams III with a permanent bronze plaque unveiled next to this magnificent lake. Friends and family of Williams also were on hand to celebrate the event.

“Ducks Unlimited owes a debt of gratitude to the numerous and remarkable contributions Tommy has made to wetlands, waterfowl and future generations of waterfowl hunters,” said Don Young, Ducks Unlimited executive vice president. “His enthusiasm for ring-necked ducks in particular made the Living Lakes Initiative and Big Rice Lake a natural location to recognize a lifetime of giving back to the resource.”

Williams was the recipient of the 2008 Chip Allen Conservationist of the Year award, which is presented annually to a Georgian with a history of working for wildlife and their habitats. Funds from this year’s awards event were dedicated to DU’s wild rice lakes work in Minnesota. DU works in partnership with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on wild rice lakes, which are a favorite habitat for ring-necked ducks and many other species of waterfowl and wildlife.

“I have long had a passion for ring-necked ducks, and they have a passion for Minnesota’s wild rice lakes,” Williams said. “This is the best place to put these conservation dollars to work, so that Minnesota can ship more ring-necked ducks southward for us to enjoy and hunt in the fall.”

The bronze plaque also bore the names of other supporters who have provided generous contributions in honor of Tommy Williams including: Ellen & Duncan Beard, Earl H. Bennett, Mary & Joe Beverly, Mary Jo & Ken Beverly, Lisa & Paul Bryan, Jr., Jeff W. Byrd, Anna & John Carlton, Jr., Ken Cashin, Richard & Ann Vann, Tom & Sherrie Callaway, III, Cox Enterprises, Patti Bahmann & Roger Crawford, Jill & Wilson Carraway III, Rozzie and Eddie Davis, Wayne Dodson, Lori & John Everett, Dow Lohnes, Logan Thomas Gay, Jr., Kim & Scooter Grubbs, Sandra & Ed Hall, Bonnie & Mike Haney, Kaki and Larry Harmon, Peggy & Joe Hughes, Cindy & Dale Hughes, Bob W. & Beverly Jackson, Angela & Kim Jones, Caren & Powell Jones, Kathy and Bernie Lanigan, Lindsey Ledbetter, Tyler Ledbetter, Louis & Barbara Lee, Janice & Michael Lee, Monty Lewis, Diane & James Lowry, Farolyn & Patrick Mobley, Judy & Mark Mobley, Cathy & Richard Mooney, Diane Williams Parker, Kathy & Stephen Parker, Hayley & Tom Parker, Carl R. Pennington, Jr., Jane & John Pope, Janet & Brooks Sheldon, Jill & Rankin Smith, Jr., Gerhard Sommer, Melissa & Pete Thomas, Janine & Tommy Vann, U.S. Trust Bank, Alston & Philip Watt, Cynthia & Robert Webster, Jr., Ashlyn Williams, Neel Williams, Sabrina S. Williams, Lyle Williams, Randie & Keith Wortman, Daphne & Marty Wood, and Williams Family Foundation of Georgia

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.