Read release online ? RIDGELAND, Miss. ? July 23, 2012 ? Mississippi Ducks Unlimited State Chairman Keith Hancock of Brooksville was recognized as the number-one state chairman in the nation at DU?s 75th Anniversary National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., in May. ?This is great recognition for all of Mississippi?s dedicated volunteers and members that commit their time and financial resources to meet the goals and mission of Ducks Unlimited,? said DU Regional Director Billie Ray Fann. The State Chairman Award is representative of the overall success of fundraising events experienced in a year, and award criteria consist of eight categories that include increases in event income and numbers of members, volunteers and sponsors. Points are awarded based on an Olympics-style scoring system to ensure fairness regardless of a state?s size and population. In 2011, Mississippi DU was ranked in the top five in event income and membership growth and experienced a 23 percent increase in revenue. ?Ducks Unlimited works for Mississippi duck hunters like no other waterfowl conservation group,? Fann said. ?Only Ducks Unlimited performs habitat conservation both in our state and on the breeding grounds where our annual migration originates.? Ducks Unlimited has spent more than $34.5 million on projects in Mississippi to conserve 288,426 acres across the state. Proceeds raised from local events hosted by the 800-plus volunteers in Mississippi, are used to fulfill the Ducks Unlimited mission of conserving wetland habitats sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. ?In the last years, on average, DU has spent nearly $2.5 million on projects in Mississippi, representing an almost five-to-one return on the funds raised by volunteers in the state,? Fann said. Also recognized at DU?s national convention, Mississippi State University (MSU) DU Chapter co-chairmen Cody Pugh of Chunky and Hunter Pridgen of Greenwood received Mississippi?s Area Chairman of the Year Award. Both of these young men displayed unique leadership abilities and exemplified the model of a DU volunteer. Under their leadership, the MSU chapter became the number-six collegiate chapter in the nation after recruiting 45 new committee members and hosting two of Mississippi?s top fundraising events, one of which was the second-highest-grossing fundraising event in the state. Pridgen was also named Mississippi DU Volunteer of the Year. He has been involved with DU since he was 11, helping his hometown event in Greenwood. As co-chairman of the university chapter in his last year at MSU, Pridgen shared his abilities and lessons learned with younger volunteers who will now take on the difficult task of filling his shoes. Pugh received his degree in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture from MSU and is now a certified wildlife biologist working for Jim Kennedy on his York Woods farm in Charleston, Miss. Join Mississippi DU in celebrating the successes of 2011 and carrying them forward through 2012 at the Mississippi State Convention in Natchez, July 26-29. For additional information, please contact Michael Jaynes (601-870-2603), Pat McDonough (601-431-2624) or Grayson Lewis (601 -540-2295). Ducks Unlimited is the world?s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.