UWSP announces creation of waterfowl graduate position

For the Metro Wire

Generous gifts to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will establish an endowed graduate assistantship in waterfowl research, enhancing one of the nation’s largest wildlife management programs.

Gifts totaling more than $1 million to the UWSP Foundation will create the Douglas and Carol Federighi Waterfowl Graduate Assistantship in the College of Natural Resources, representing the first fully endowed graduate assistantship in the university’s history. Earnings from the endowment will support tuition and student stipends.

The assistantship honors the memory of Douglas Federighi of Lafayette, Calif., an avid outdoorsman, duck hunter, and advocate for wetlands preservation and restoration, who died in April 2018. Federighi was a life member of the California Waterfowl Association and an active member and supporter of Ducks Unlimited (DU). He was a board member for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (U.S.), and chaired the group’s Conservation Programs Committee. He also served on the boards of Ducks Unlimited Canada and Ducks Unlimited de Mexico.

Donors from eight states across the country are supporting the endowment, most of whom have strong ties to Memphis-based Ducks Unlimited. They include the following from California: Paul and Sandi Bonderson, Brent Federighi, Al and Gail Montna Family, Tashia and John Morgridge, Pepper Snyder and David and Kathleen Grieve; plus Bill and Sarah D’Alonzo, Florida; Livia and George Dunklin, Arkansas; Jim Kennedy, Georgia; Sue and Jim Konkel, Maine; Mike and Gigi McShane, South Carolina; Bob and Kim Spoerl, Wisconsin; John and Judy Tomke, Indiana; and the Jack and Marion Wilson Fund at UW-Stevens Point.

“For almost 82 years, Ducks Unlimited has insisted that waterfowl and wetland science drive its conservation programs,” said John Tomke, past president of DU and current board chair of Ducks Unlimited de Mexico, who orchestrated support for the endowment. “As chair of the DU Conservation Programs Committee, Doug diligently sought to increase the body of science related to waterfowl and their habitats. His friends and all who knew him felt it was fitting that this UWSP endowment is named in Doug’s and Carol’s honor.”

The new endowment will support and enhance the work of the Kennedy-Grohne Chair in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation, established in 2015 at UW-Stevens Point. The aim is to attract top students and nurture their development as emerging leaders in the field of waterfowl and wetlands conservation, said Christine Thomas, College of Natural Resources dean.

“The people who have generously donated to this endowment are committed conservationists from coast to coast, many of whom have national leadership roles in Ducks Unlimited,” Thomas said. “We are honored by the trust they have placed in our institution, our faculty, and our students. We are also excited for this enhanced opportunity to work with Ducks Unlimited and other partners to expand Wisconsin’s role in training the next generation of managers who will care for our nation’s precious waterfowl and wetlands resources.”

Earnings from the endowment will support tuition and student stipends for Federighi graduate assistants and undergraduate fellows, stipends for their faculty mentors, and other expenses relating to the research they conduct.

“We are grateful for these generous gifts, which will allow UW-Stevens Point to build on strengths in our College of Natural Resources and expand mentored research opportunities for students at the graduate and undergraduate levels,” Chancellor Bernie Patterson said.

The new endowment for the Douglas and Carol Federighi Waterfowl Graduate Assistantship is being made possible by donors supportive of the work of Ducks Unlimited. DU’s mission is to conserve, restore, and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl, which also yields benefits to other wildlife and to people. The organization hopes to reverse the degradation and loss of wetlands habitat through diverse public and private partnerships that include key university programs such as UWSP’s.

The Federighi Assistantship is the second major commitment to UW-Stevens Point’s waterfowl program, exceeding $3 million in three years. The gifts are part of the ‘Then, Now & Forever – We Are Point’ capital campaign.