More than 400 patrons showed up to support California Waterfowl Association (CWA) at the Colusa chapter’s annual dinner last Saturday, and while the final numbers have yet to be tallied, both organizers and attendees are deeming the event a success.
“I think it went really well. It was a really good turnout. We had 415 tickets sold, and all of our tables were full… I don’t have final figures for the money we raised, but I think it was successful,” said Colusa CWA Mallard Legacy board member Tiffani Thomas.
Among the attendees was Chad LeBlanc, who is an officer at the Colusa Police Department.
“This was my first (CWA dinner) in Colusa. It was well run,” LeBlanc said. “What brought me out there is that I’m an avid outdoorsman who supports conservation. I support the California Waterfowl Association because it stays local.”
The proceeds from the dinner, which came from ticket and table sales, a live and silent auction, and a raffle, will all go toward the organization’s egg salvage program.
“Our platform is the egg salvage program. All money raised goes toward the CWA Egg Salvage Fund,” Thomas said. “That is dispersed to those that are helping egg salvage efforts throughout the county, and other counties throughout the state.”
The Dwight L. Merriman Jr. Egg Salvage and Duck Rescue Program was started with the goals of restoring waterfowl breeding habitats and grow California’s mallard population in mind. Participants include farmers, hatchery partners, and volunteers across the Sacramento Valley, who work to save eggs in agricultural fields that would otherwise be destined for destruction.
As LeBlanc alluded to, the CWA’s Egg Salvage Program has a strong presence locally, which is part of what makes their fundraising event in Colusa such a great one, Kittle’s Outdoor & Sport owner Pat Kittle said.
“In this particular case, for this dinner, I feel better about it than I do about most other non-profits in the sense that they have a great program that they spend money on locally,” Kittle said. “They have a lot of younger, dedicated people who are spending hours in the field, and I think it’s making a difference.”
Colusa County Supervisor John Loudon, who helped organize a similar event years ago, agreed.
“These folks are focused on local efforts for ducks — it seems like a much more localized organization,” Loudon said. “I had a great time. It was a fun dinner and I was impressed with the number of guns they had out there. They raised a lot of money, I’m sure.”
Thomas said that there were indeed more guns up for grabs at the dinner, in addition to a greater number of other raffle and auction items.
“Overall, the amount of merchandise in the room was huge compared to what we had in previous years,” she said.
Thomas added that the attendance was on par with recent years, but that the composition of the crowd was a little different, including more locals and more children.
“There were a lot more local, Colusa County residents, and we had a lot more kids than we have in the past,” Thomas said. “I think that has to do with the Colusa County Youth Shooting Sports (CCYSS) team working and helping us with the event.”
Even though there may have been more locals at this year’s dinner, both Loudon and Kittle noted that there still wasn’t a huge local presence there. Kittle said that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s good for the community, in a sense that… I had multiple people say that there weren’t that many people from Colusa there. And that’s a good thing, because it brings people from out of town and gives them something to do,” Kittle said.
“I was surprised that there weren’t that many Colusa people out there, but one of the most positive things I saw was that the (CCYSS team) was there helping. I was really happy to see that,” Loudon said.
Clad in their bright green uniforms, the team — dubbed the Colusa County Ducks — assisted the caterer at the event, and they were handsomely rewarded for their hard work. Between a donation from Catering Unlimited, the auctioning of a donated shotgun, and “passing the hat” around to dinner-goers, the upstart club earned nearly $5,000 for their upcoming inaugural season.
“It’s a really expensive sport. We’re trying to keep costs down for shooters,” said CCYSS Erin Kalfsbeek. “I’ve always tried to instill in my kids that things aren’t just given to you. I think that kids that we brought to the dinner went, ‘Wow, we worked really hard, but look what we got in return.’ And what we didn’t get in donations, we got in connections. We got a lot of business cards from people who expressed a lot of interest in helping out and getting involved.”
Three of them also won guns during the youth raffle. It was a big deal for one of the kids, in particular.
“One of boys that won the gun didn’t have his own shotgun,” Kalfsbeek said. “He was so proud that he got to not only work the dinner, but also got his own equipment to participate in the sport he wants to try out. It was a neat experience.”
The dinner also included a toy drive, where raffle tickets were given in exchange for toys. The Colusa CWA chapter will work in conjunction with Impact Life Thrift Store to donate those to Colusa County youth.