Lander University Ducks Unlimited president Hunter Ellis auctions off a hunting rifle gun during Friday evening's fundraiser.

Hundreds attended Friday night’s Lander University Ducks Unlimited Chapter (LUDU) fundraiser for conservation. Ducks Unlimited Inc., which is one of the oldest waterfowl conservation organizations, prides itself on creating a safe and progressive environment for waterfowl habitat.

The impact of conservation has trickled down to Lander University senior Hunter Ellis, who helped build the LUDU program into what it is today and spearheaded Friday’s fundraiser.

“I’ve been a part of Duck’s Unlimited,” said Ellis, who is also the chairman and president of LUDU. “I’ve been hunting and fishing all my life. Coming to Lander, I really wanted to get back into DU, and there wasn’t a big chapter here, so I kind of got it started off here.

“A lot of people think it’s about ducking. Yes, that’s what we do, but we’re (also) about preserving the ducks, waterfowl, wetlands — we’re really doing that.”

Ellis’ visions seems to be paying dividends. The chapter drew nearly 200 people and raised $10,000 after auctioning a wide variety of duck hunting supplies.

“All the money tonight will go to conservation (of waterfowl and wetlands),” Ellis said. “It goes to the national base and South Carolina as well.

Ellis and his chapter got the message out first with sponsorship donations in the Greenwood area. They then brought it back to Lander, where the group manned tables throughout the day, selling tickets, taking donations and raffling off stickers and t-shirts. This also plays into Ellis’ next vision that extends beyond duck hunting.

“We’re trying to build leadership, community effort into the university as well as getting more diversity into it,” he said. “Were trying to educate. Most of these kids don’t get to get out and hunt. So if we can get them out hunting, we want to educate them about it.”

How this fundraiser helps them in the long term, Ellis added: “Ducks Unlimited pays for what’s called a duck box. … This box allows for the wood ducks to come out and lay their eggs within South Carolina. So that money is going back into our community.”

For LUDU, Friday night was a stepping stone for a chapter that is still young.

“Tonight, I’m mind blown on how much support we got,” Ellis said. “If that doesn’t show that the people of Greenwood care about their wetland and waterfowl, then I don’t know what does.”

Contact staff writer Julian McWilliams at 864-223-1814 or on Twitter@JulianMack105