A Mississippi State University student organization not only earned official Sweet 16 honors this spring, but also unofficial Final Four as the nation’s Number Twocollegiate chapter of Ducks Unlimited.

Stephen Leininger, chairman of the Bulldog Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, recently received documentation announcing the chapter’s 2012 success. Each spring, the international organization releases a list of their top 16 university chapters.

“Our chapter has improved from ninth place in 2010, to sixth place in 2011, to second last year. Of course, we aren’t satisfied yet,” he said.

Leininger, a senior majoring in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, said the chapter is recognized for membership and fundraising abilities in support of natural resource conservation. “We have students with a wide variety of backgrounds, but we are united in our interests in promoting clean water and waterfowl in general. Ducks Unlimited members are definitely outdoors people.”

Mississippi Ducks Unlimited Regional Director Billie Ray Fann of Greenwood said the waterfowl conservation organization is focused on improving duck habitats. “Only Ducks Unlimited performs habitat conservation both in our state and on the breeding grounds where our annual migration originates. In Mississippi, Ducks Unlimited projects have improved waterfowl habitat on more than 289,000 acres and spent more than $37 million to date.”

In the past five years, Ducks Unlimited has averaged spending of $2.5 million annually in Mississippi to improve waterfowl habitat and hunting opportunities.

Leininger said the Bulldog chapter exists to support those efforts. The student organization has expanded from a single fundraising banquet in the fall to include a spring crawfish boil.

“All the money we raise goes to the national Ducks Unlimited organization, and 80 percent of that is spent on natural resource conservation,” he said. “We could not succeed without the support of fellow Bulldogs, friends, associates and alumni.”

Leininger invited the public to attend the third annual crawfish boil from 1 to 5 p.m. April 6 at Rick’s Cafe in Starkville. There will be live music, an auction and raffles for 2013 Ducks Unlimited merchandise, custom duckcalls, Yeti coolers and guns.

Single ticket prices are $30 for students, $40 for nonstudents, $50 for student couples and $60 for nonstudent couples. All tickets will cost an extra $10 at the door. Tickets cover crawfish, beverages, admission to the event and Ducks Unlimited membership. Tickets can be purchased from Bulldog chapter committee members, ordered online from http://tinyurl.com/bulldog-du-event or reserved by contacting Leininger at sdl128@msstate.edu.