I attended the TU Teen Summit with one goal in mind; learn how to get teens involved with Trout Unlimited and learn how to keep them involved. Attending the camp gave me some direction on how to begin to do this. Perhaps the biggest thing I learned from the camp is that there are, in fact, other teens who are willing to devote themselves to river conservation. As of now, roughly 230 people under the age of 18 are signed up as Trout Unlimited members. The Trout Unlimited organization currently has a projected end date; A point where the TU membership value will read zero. However, I as a "teen", and we as people, have the power to change this. The number of teen memberships can be improved greatly and I don't think it will be that tough to get teens involved, we just have to know how to reach them. This brings up the problem of how exactly we should go about improving teen involvement. I think that there are many, many different ways that we can go about this and I intend to focus on a few specific ideas.
-Involve teens in TU as early as possible. I think that while the human brain is still developing, people are highly impressionable and it would be easier to get younger kids involved. I plan to keep it simple: take a kid fishing. This could easily lead to simple ways of introducing TU. I think once this "seed" is planted, it will either take hold or it won't. Just plant the "seed" and see what happens.
-Increase the "young adult" involvement. I think that the younger an adult is, the more weight their words carry with a teen.
-Keep it fun. Include fishing with service projects and introduce other events where there are none (BBQ's, Fly Tying Demos, Youth Fishing Retreats or Tournaments). Few teens will stick with TU if it's all work.
-Introduce teen postions on chapter boards. We have things to say and we can make a difference! If you'll give us the ability to make a difference, we'll take it any day of the week.
-Social Media. It's not my thing, but I do believe there is potential to involve teens through this.
I believe that there are many teens out there with lots of inspiration and motivation to get involved with TU. The challenge will be to find these teens and keep them. In the same way not all of teens who attended the Summit will become really involved, not all of the teens we recruit are going to stick with it, in fact, more likely than not, few will; But the ones that do will be worth it. Finding these teens will be crucial to the life of TU; they will be highly motivated and ready to work. I promise you that these people will be ready and they WILL make a difference in your community. It's up to you to go get them.