MWA folds; New club in the works in Tracy

By Per Peterson

The Minnesota Waterfowl Association has championed the outdoors and has raised money for habitat restoration and the promotion of the outdoors at the state and local levels for more than 50 years. That tradition, which has expanded to include younger generations, is now over.

The non-profit MWA, which began in 1967 in Albert Lea, has disbanded and will no longer be a source for habitat support in Minnesota.

“This is going to have a lasting impact,” said former MWA Executive Director Brad Nylin, who has made many a trip to Tracy for MWA fundraising banquets. “I think we’ve done a lot of great things over the years. Unfortunately, this is just the way the world goes. It’s just a different time, and our board decided we just can’t continue on.”

John Schroers, who as MWA chairman years ago served as the group’s spokesman and worked to secure funding from the Legislature through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, said the decision to disband came down mainly to finances. At one point, in 2011, the group had upwards of $500,000 in the bank; that shrunk to about $30,000 by 2018 when he was asked to return to the MWA board after a hiatus.

“The organization suffered from poor quality of volunteer leadership,” Schroers said. “They were good people intending to do good things, but were incapable, apparently, of giving direction. The MWA probably died in 2015 — that’s when it probably reached a point of no return. We came in as this new board and tried to revise a few things — the staff took a 50% pay cut, we cut things to the bone — but we still didn’t have enough income. The handwriting was on the wall then.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.