Thursday, June 1, 2017

Commons Campaign: Ducks Unlimited

Project Proposal
Zack Darlington
Andrew Fitzke
Our campaign proposal takes a close look at the Ducks Unlimited conservation organization. For this portion of the project, we will analyze the rhetorical situation, and how it applies to our organization.
The first element of the rhetorical situation is the exigence. Exigence has been defined by Bitzer as the problem that causes someone to address it. Ducks unlimited has identified the exigence as the current conditions of the wetlands throughout North America. Specifically, these wetlands do not serve as a proper habitat for waterfowl due to the lack of care and cleanliness. Ducks Unlimited aims to raise money toward conservation of these wetlands to provide a more stable habitat for the waterfowl.
The following element is the audience. The audience is who the message is targeted to. The intended audience for DU is members of the public who have the same appreciation for wild life. One could argue that the general public is being targeted. While this is true, the more specific and realistic audience would be people who enjoy wildlife and specifically waterfowl, that would be willing to donate to the cause.
Some of the constraints DU may face include a lack of donations, experiencing an increase in wetland pollution, along with other hindering events. These constraints can come in various forms, but are preventable. With a well educated public, wetland conservation can increase through as simple of measures as properly disposing of waste and garbage. Donations can help provide the proper equipment and efforts to clean our wetlands, along with creating a more sustainable environment for the waterfowl.
Our proposal looks to take the message of Ducks Unlimited and promote it through various social media sites. Like the ALS ice bucket challenge, donations to the organization are encouraged to help fund the proper preservation of the wetlands. In contrast to the ALS ice bucket challenge, there are numerous ways that the Ducks Unlimited organization can reach success. The ice bucket challenge was created to raise money toward research and treatment. If the money was not raised, then it would be difficult to determine if the challenge was a success. Although, DU does encourage donations toward preserving these habitats for waterfowl, the overall knowledge of preserving and cleaning these areas can be seen as a successful movement. For instance, if DU does not reach the donation amount desired, the public can still do their part in preserving wetlands by properly disposing of their garbage or waste. We believe that a social media movement is the best answer because of the amount of followers/users of these social sites. Everyone can think of someone that has a personal social media account. With a general promotional ad, we aim to educate the public on the status of North American wetlands, and encourage donations to help preserve these environments.
By creating a social movement, we will be able to reach an audience across the nation and not just specifically in Nebraska.  We will interview regional leaders of the organization as well as the president of DU at the University of Nebraska.  These interviews will help us organize our social movement in more of a way to be successful.  We will use the knowledge we gain from the interviews to develop this social movement.  In our project, we will use different styles of communication to present our movement.  We plan on creating a small video of the interviews to put on social media sites, as well as create a movement to gain people’s attention.  Wanting our project to be impactful and memorable is a key factor in our social movement being successful.  We will try to impact the wildlife management activist by creating a movement that they can support and are willing to speak out about.  Getting the attention of people will be the first step in creating the memory, from there will develop a plan to relate their lives to the life of the wild life that are being harmed by improper care of the wetlands.  Social media will be our main source of medium to deliver our message to the public and get them to donate with money or personal time to help the wetlands.  Being able to connect Ducks Unlimited to our project will help us gain credibility for our project.
Week 1
May 19, 2017 – Project Proposal due by 11:59pm
Week 2
May 22 – May 26 – Conduct interviews and do research on Ducks Unlimited
May 24 – Create social media accounts to use
May 26 – Start using the social media sites to promote our project/Make video of interviews
Week 3
May 29 – June 2 – Write final paper for project
May 30 – Collect data from the project to use in paper
May 30 – June 1 – Continue using Social Media accounts
June 2 – Turn in Final paper/project
            Following our proposal, we were able to interview a number of people that have a hand in running the Ducks Unlimited foundation.  One of the interviews that we conducted was with the Regional Director Steve Wilson.  We asked him a set of questions to get a feel of how he got involved with Ducks Unlimited and how the foundation has changed during the time he has been involved.  Steve started volunteering for the foundation when he was in college and found that it could turn into a permanent job, he has been a staff member for the past 10 years.  Steve mentioned that the overall goal of Ducks Unlimited has not changed since 1937, however each region has their own focus on the goal.  Each region changes based on their focus on fundraising, volunteers, and membership recruitment.  During the interview, we asked Steve how UNL has made progress towards the Ducks Unlimited goal.  He mentioned how the membership numbers and volunteers have increased greatly since he was a volunteer and the UNL chapter has helped put in a habitat for waterfowl.
Steve talked about the success of the UNL chapter and how they get their message across to the public. He claims that the UNL chapter is tied for 14th in the nation in fundraising.  He shared with us the social media websites they use to recruit volunteers/members, as well as announce events that are happening.  Overall, in the interview with Steve we found that Ducks Unlimited uses social media to try and gain support as they continue to focus on putting habitat on the ground in the Midwest. Steve closed with “We want to leave a legacy for generations to come, continue to hunt, and build sustainability.”
            We were also able to interview Jordan Wetovick, the President of the UNL chapter, and Riley Knake, the Vice president of the chapter. The purpose of the interview was to have a credible testimony to how the foundation works. There is information one could retrieve from the foundations website, but we hoped to get a more substantive answer. The interview consisted of ten questions that dug deeper into the driving force of Ducks Unlimited and how they have reached this level of success. While Steve was in charge of overseeing the Midwest, both Jordan and Riley manage the UNL chapter specifically. Although this is on a smaller scale, the over all goal is still the same as the foundation. Jordan and Riley described their roles for the foundation as “overseeing the increase in memberships and creating fundraisers that help the overall goal and mission of Ducks Unlimited”. (Interview, 2017) With the foundations goal being to raise not only money but awareness, to restore, conserve and manage wetlands that inhabit North America, we discussed how they focus on raising awareness. They informed us that the UNL chapter relies heavily on promoting through social media. Being on a college campus gives access to a large social media population. To reach this population, the UNL chapter has a Facebook page, as well as an Instagram page. This allows members of the chapter to post contents from the page on their personal accounts, which can result in more members, donations to the foundation and an overall awareness of the problem existing in our wetlands.
            Our campaign is designed to take these credible interviews and incorporate them into a Facebook that will be used solely to spread the message of Ducks Unlimited. The page will contain the detailed interviews conducted in our campaign, along with other articles and headlines regarding Ducks Unlimited. By partnering with the UNL chapter, we will be able to help promote each other and reach thousands of potential donors. Because the chapter is on a college campus, this allows for more diverse backgrounds to make up the chapter. With members sharing our page, the Ducks Unlimited message could potentially be spread nation wide.
            Overall, we feel that this project was very successful in a number of ways. First, we feel that we were able to identify a legitimate foundation that had pure intentions with their actions. Promoting this message is one that benefits the world as a whole. Everyday areas suffer from waste and pollution, and this foundation pinpoints it in North America specifically. Second, the testimonies we were able to conduct give our project credibility because of the position these individuals hold in the foundation. A first hand account from the regional director regarding why he joined the foundation and what they have accomplished validates the severity of our message.

zAlthough we feel the project went well, there are still a few things we would do differently. Because this course was only three weeks, we had to conduct the interviews over the phone. (All three subjects were out of town for the summer) Had we had more time, we would have liked to conduct the interviews in person over a video recording. This would allow us to use the clips to create a more impactful form of action. All in all, this project opened our eyes to things that have gone unknown for a long time. Our hope is that through the testimonies posted on the Facebook page, the message of Ducks Unlimited will go unheard no longer.

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