For Waterfowl Festival president Ken Miller and his colleagues on its board of directors, their mission is simple; help celebrate the unique culture of the Chesapeake and raise money to protect it.
While it is true that the majority of the Board’s work is focused on the smooth operation of a three-day festival now in its 51st year, Waterfowl’s real business is to work with local conservation organizations, artists, artisans, hunters, and watermen to help educate the public on how rare and exceptional life is for those fortunate to live on the Eastern Shore.
Much of this effort has historically gone into land protection. Close to $6 million has been raised and donated to the cause of land protection on the Shore. And more recently, it has started a scholarship fund for young people eager to become leaders in the conservation movement.
But the real challenge for the organization happens every year in the streets and buildings of downtown Easton. Part of the labor is finding sponsorships and attracting the best waterfowl artists and artisans, but more importantly, to continue to creatively engage the thousands of families who attend with programming for all ages.
In Ken’s case, a boyhood in rural New Jersey was where his conservation passion began. Growing up in a small town in the farm country of that state, Ken started hunting as a kid, primarily ducks and muskrats, which led him to a love for duck carving during his teens. And from then on, Miller has always found a way to be part of the culture.
While his real job in life has been a succession of leading insurance companies, followed by a successful role as an entrepreneur in private equity finance, Ken Miller remained a lifelong hunter but has also engaged in land use and conservation. From chairing Morristown’s Open Space Committee to installing living shorelines at his family’s now permanent home on Broad Creek in Talbot County, Ken and his wife, Julia, have been active participants in ecological preservation.
The most recent example has been Ken’s work with the Waterfowl Festival. A Board member for years, he recently agreed to serve as president for a one-year term. The Spy sat down with him last week to talk about the Festival (which starts this weekend), the organization’s mission, and some of the challenges Waterfowl Festival faces as it enters its sixth decade.
This video is approximately three minutes in length. For information and advance tickets please go here.