The Prairie Pothole Chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association was formed by a group of outdoorsmen concerned abou the loss of watefowl habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region of Minnesota. Organized in 1983, this group of enthusiastic volunteers set out to improve the habitat and educate the public about the importance of wetlands and the surrounding upland habitat. Immediately this group, working in conjunction with local Minnesota DNR Biologists, began the hands on work of improving the ducks plight. Early projects included placing loafing logs in wildlife management areas throughout Kandyohi County, the draw down of a slough alsong the Northern edge of the county, and testifying at local 'Ditch Meetings.'
These traditions of education, lobbying, and hands on work continue today. The Prairie Pothole Chapter has placed and maintains the wood duck nesting structures on Robbins Island in Willmar, MN, cleaning the boxes each spring and tracking nesting success. The Chapter has continued to fund projects throughout the area, enhanicng and restoring waterfowl habitat. The Minnesota Waterfowl Association signs that dod the landscape testify to the hard work and monies that the Chapter has spent. Prairie Pothole Chapter has continued to educate the public on wetland isssues, either by sponsoring a habitat day each sping where families can assemble wood duck nest structures or by partnering with the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center to develop and stall outdoor education programming. While Chapter members have donated thousands of hours ove the years working on projects and educating the public, very little of theis work could have been accomplished without the support of the community.
The Prairie Pothole Chapter raises this support and money through the Prairie Pothole Day event held at Soney Ridge Farm outside New London, MN. From the beginning the Chapter recognized that it's mission was larger than raising money for our state conservation organizations.
"Not that a Banquet isn't a good idea but we tired to think of a fundraiser that would
involve the family, that would be fun to put on and also make money for the Waterfowl Association... We feld, especially, in the Willmar area, we just have enought banquets."
Roger Strand, Swift County Monitor, September 12, 1984
The Prairie Pothole Day even has become a regional outdoor tradition growing in size and stature. While the number of visitors now routinely hovers around 4,000 and the monies raised routinely approaches fifty thousand dollars the basic nature of the event has change little. The barn has been renovated and now hosts displays by the Minnesota DNR and the USFWS. Members of the Wood Duck Society, local decoy carvers, and naturalists man boots that dot the trail along the lake. Out back shooters can take advantage of the sporting clays course, the archery trail, or the black powder range. Vistors still have a chance to watch the dogs, wether in the dog jump or retriever challenge. Also present are numerous vendors offering outdoor related merchandise.
The Prairie Pothoel Chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association started in 1983, has grown into the mission outlined by the founding members - to raise moey that would be used to educate the public and fund local wetland habitat conservation and restoration projects.