Trout Unlimited is a big umbrella.
It does not matter which side of the aisle your chosen politicians sit on: TU has you covered. It does not matter if you are man or woman, what your racial makeup is, or what level of education you have: TU has you covered. Closest to home, it does not matter if or how you fish, or whether or not you eat fish: TU has you covered.
TU has you covered because the TU umbrella is not about differences; it’s about similarities.
The TU umbrella is about our mission statement, our vision statement, and our commitment to protecting, restoring, reconnecting, and sustaining our coldwater resources. If you believe in that vision and mission, then TU has you covered.
Too often we get lost in fights about issues that highlight our differences, rather than focusing our energy on the things that unite us. There is no cookie cutter TU member. We have members who simply do not fish, but who have joined because they want to get involved in stream restoration workdays. We have members who have no interest in working on a restoration project, but who want to teach kids how to fish. We have lifetime members who have made that commitment because they support our cause, but who do not come to events. Conversely, we have lifelong members who have continually paid $35 each year and who attend every event TU has.
Such differences aren’t anything we should be getting worked up about. These differences are what makes TU function, and what makes TU great. In order to have our message heard, we need as many folks involved with as many facets of our group as possible. The more members we have out engaged in activities on behalf of TU, the more visibility TU has, and the more authority our message is given. And it’s an important message to have heard.
And in order to keep having our message being heard in the coming years, we will need to add even more ingredients to our recipe. We need to do everything we can to attract youth. We need to do everything we can to attract women to our organization. We need to do everything we can to attract different ethnicities to our group. We need to revolutionize our technology, become more involved in social media, and work on defining and spreading our brand.
These things sound like edicts from a boardroom, and to some extent they are. But they come with the express intent to serve our membership. A saying I am fond of is that “good leaders don’t have people who work for them — good leaders work for their people.” I have incredibly large shoes to fill stepping in for Kim McCarthy and trying to sustain the legacy of those chairs and leaders who’ve preceded me. My goal is to do everything I can to listen to Wisconsin’s chapters, find out what they need and want, and to actuate the State Council as a tool which serves to meet those needs.
In the coming months, we hope to roll out a new membership committee, a new mass e-mail tool, a new women’s activities committee, a new outreach plan and committee, and to begin soliciting feedback from chapters about what they need the State Council to do. We’re talking about efforts to create college clubs, to hold leadership training workshops, and to instruct chapters on communication methods. A new chapter’s formation is being discussed. In short, we want to do whatever we can to grow our membership, to help our chapters succeed, and to put more people in more spots to do more good.
If you are interested in getting involved at the state level of TU, there is a place for you. Please step up, step in, and help make a difference.