Fred Granitz is a United States Army veteran and has dedicated his life to working with waterfowl. Before joining the Department of Natural Resources, Fred was a hunting guide on Little Pecan Island in Louisiana for over five years. Fred started his career as a wildlife technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 1983. For 27 years, he banded ducks, doves, and geese using various methods, such as water and land traps, drive nets, cannon nets, and nest box capture. The species were captured and banded for multiple reasons, including but not limited to population studies, nest success rates, movement analysis, nest predation, and species health. Throughout his years with the DNR, Fred handled thousands of birds in various situations. In December 2011, he retired from the Georgia DNR and began working as a wildlife consultant, a role he continues to hold. As a consultant, Fred has specialized in wetlands and waterfowl habitat management in and throughout Georgia.
For more than three decades, Terry Johnson was employed by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, first as a wildlife biologist and then as the program manager of the Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. After he retired, he did not leave his passion for wildlife conservation or duck study behind. Terry currently volunteers with Georgia’s Nongame Wildlife Conservation Section. He conducts butterfly and bird surveys on state lands and coordinates the Community Wildlife Project. He also presents programs on birds, butterflies, and other nongame animals throughout the state. In addition, Terry is the executive director of The Environmental Resources Network (TERN), the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Section’s friends group. Terry Johnson has spent a lifetime dedicated to wildlife resources. His professional accolades include more than 70 awards for wildlife conservation, writing, and outdoor photography from the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association, the Garden Club of Georgia – Award of Merit (highest honor given to a non-member), Wildlife Resources Division – Wildlife Biologist of the Year, Georgia Ornithological Society – Earle Greene Award (Outstanding Achievement in Ornithology), Georgia Wildlife Federation – Wildlife Conservationist of the Year (Twice), and Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association – The Golden Pen Award. Moreover, Terry embodies the heart of conservation through education. He has authored two books, Georgia Nature Weekends and A Journey of Discovery.
Reggie Thackston grew up in rural northwest Georgia in an outdoor-oriented family that spent time hunting, fishing, and camping. That upbringing ultimately led to a wildlife conservation career. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forest resources management from the University of Georgia, with coursework concentrations in silviculture and wildlife. Reggie is a Certified Wildlife Biologist by The Wildlife Society. With over 40 years of experience in wildlife management and research, Reggie has specialized in the science-based integration of proven protocols for the northern bobwhite, eastern wild turkey, and white-tailed deer into forested and agricultural landscapes. He has trapped and tagged wild turkeys, bobwhite quail, waterfowl, and mourning doves. Reggie has authored or co-authored over 30 scientific papers and 50 popular articles on wildlife conservation and management, including the book Deer and Turkey Management Beyond Food Plots by Kammermyer and Thackston, 2010. He has worked extensively in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Georgia and is no stranger to duck study.
Mike grew up hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather in middle Georgia. He spent many hours when he should have been studying reading Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Robert Rourk, Nash Buckingham, Gene Hill, and Tom Kelly. When the wild quail played out in the early 70’s, he and his father began duck hunting. His father encouraged him to build and put-up wood duck boxes as part of the hunters’ responsibility to be a good steward of the land.
In the summer of 1987, Mike worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, driving a dump truck for Georgia’s inaugural Ducks Unlimited M.A.R.S.H project at Rum Creek WMA. This job fostered lasting friendships with Fred Granitz, Terry Johnson, and Reggie Thackston. That same year, Mike and his close friend Rob Tuggle founded the second collegiate DU chapter in the nation at the Walter F. George School of Law. Mike served as an area and zone chairman and is a proud Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited. While Mike and Rob were aware that their college DU chapter might not raise substantial funds, their hope was twofold: to introduce people to the beauty of waterfowl and to educate them about the importance of habitat conservation and the critical role hunters and conservationists play in duck study and protecting our wildlife resources. This theme is at the heart of 50 Ducks.
Greer Smith is a lifelong Georgia resident and a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. As a youngster, Greer inherited a passion for the great outdoors from his father and grandfather. Those memorable experiences played a critical role in shaping his love for waterfowl habitat management. After joining the corporate world upon graduating from college, Greer soon realized that he yearned for more. The turning point came during a family hunting and fishing trip to Venice, Louisiana, which served as the catalyst for a life-changing decision. Inspired by the experience, he chose to put his corporate career behind to create “50 Ducks,” a venture which would spread his love of waterfowl to the world. Today, Greer’s dedication is making a difference in the waterfowl conservation world, and he shares his enthusiasm for the outdoors with others. Through his efforts with “50 Ducks,” he strives to inspire a new generation of conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts, ensuring that the beauty and wonder of nature are preserved and appreciated for years to come.
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