The Ducks Unlimited Ecology Conservation & Management Certification verifies individuals have obtained exceptional knowledge and skills in the areas of ecological principles and wildlife management, as well as habitat, forest, grasslands, wetlands and waterfowl conservation and management.
Alvin Toffler, the renowned futurist and writer, once stated, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."
Upskilling is defined as improving the aptitude for work by additional training. Before 2020, upskilling was a term unfamiliar to the general public. Yet, the demand for upskilling opportunities, and thus the familiarity with the word, was exacerbated due to the employment shifts and layoffs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, companies offer upskilling opportunities to bolster and maximize employee skill sets to meet company goals and objectives. However, some motivated individuals seek out upskilling opportunities on their own to accomplish career goals or increase their employability.
The use of industry certifications as an upskilling tool has been growing in popularity in recent years. Industry certifications allow the earner to verify their knowledge and skills. Research has shown industry certifications can help individuals secure employment more quickly and earn higher wages than non-certified workers. For those no longer in a formal education or training system, industry certifications are a way to refresh their knowledge base and keep their skills current in an independent, self-paced environment.
Ducks Unlimited is recognized as the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Since 1937, the organization has been dedicated to conserving, restoring and managing wetlands and associated habitats for waterfowl. Using a grassroots, volunteer-based organizational structure, Ducks Unlimited has built a successful partnership with private individuals, landowners, agencies, scientific communities and other entities to conserve, restore and manage North America's wetlands. Along with implementing conservation and management practices in habitats across the continent, Ducks Unlimited has also sought to enhance the public's understanding of ecology to ensure the protection and sustainability of wetlands and waterfowl. Driven by a desire to offer more readily available educational and training opportunities related to natural resources, Ducks Unlimited launched the Ducks Unlimited Ecology Conservation & Management Certification in 2019.
The Ducks Unlimited Ecology Conservation & Management Certification verifies individuals have obtained exceptional knowledge and skills in the areas of ecological principles and wildlife management, as well as habitat, forest, grasslands, wetlands and waterfowl conservation and management. Those who earn the certification are more qualified and prepared to pursue a meaningful career in the natural resources industry and have the knowledge and skills required to be productive, effective members of the field.
Growing up in Kentucky, Gaeron Gruber always preferred being outdoors. When it came time to choose a career path, he opted for a field that fulfilled his passions. As a park ranger in Pinellas County, Florida, Gruber spends his days in the subtropical climate of the Tampa Bay area. While his duties as a park ranger are vast, Gruber most enjoys interacting with visitors and teaching them about the importance of conservation and management practices and initiatives.
Before becoming a park ranger, Gruber worked as a restoration technician for an environmental services company in Chicago. While he enjoyed his work, he felt a deeper calling to serve and began seeking training opportunities to increase his chances of finding employment as a park ranger. By going through the training materials created for the Ducks Unlimited Certification, Gruber was able to refresh his memory of ecological principles and learn new concepts he could apply in a real-world setting. Gruber included the Ducks Unlimited Certification on his resume and even included copies of the paper certificate in his portfolio. He is confident the Ducks Unlimited Certification was influential in helping him secure the park ranger position in Pinellas County, and having holistic knowledge of ecological principles helped him better adapt to a new region with unfamiliar habitats and species.
Because of his extensive understanding of ecological principles and land management practices, Gruben is well prepared to interact with park guests and expertly address their questions about the park and its wildlife. Not only did the Ducks Unlimited Certification help him secure the park ranger position and make him more effective in the role, Gruber sees the certification playing a significant part in his career development as he advances through the field.
A Texas native and Ducks Unlimited member, Casey Pentecost has been working as a game warden for the past four years. Pentecost earned a degree in criminal justice but knew he wanted to be a game warden rather than a traditional police officer. However, Pentecost found his knowledge base in ecology, biology and land management lacking due to the emphasis on law and public safety-focused courses in his college career.
Pentecost decided to earn the Ducks Unlimited Certification to bolster his knowledge of ecology and become more effective in his position as a game warden. In particular, Pentecost enjoyed learning more about various species while he completed the certification training materials. Since earning the Ducks Unlimited Certification, Pentecost has been able to offer more sound advice to landowners regarding their land management and has received positive feedback about the practices they have implemented. As a game warden, Pentecost’s mission is to “protect and conserve.”He feels it is his duty to help all individuals, not just landowners, incorporate conservation and management practices into their daily lives.
As evidenced by Gruber and Pentecost, learning does not end after formal education. To be successful in the modern workforce, one must be a lifelong learner. Upskilling allows individuals to refresh their knowledge base and enhance their skills while boosting their employability and productivity. Following Toffler's call to learn, unlearn and relearn, Gruben and Pentecost have seen the positive impacts of upskilling on a person's career. By seeking advanced training opportunities and expanding their knowledge base through the Ducks Unlimited Ecology Conservation & Management Certification, Gruben and Pentecost are more effective in their positions and prepared to contribute to Ducks Unlimited's vision of filling the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.