I recently sat under a tent at the Western North Carolina Fly Expo and watched four teenagers speak to an audience of anglers about their experience as leaders in Trout Unlimited. Articulate, professional and a little nervous, they told the story of how it all started at Trout Camp.
“Rivercourse changed my life” every one of them said. The teens, spread across the mountains and piedmont regions, not only developed a life-long passion for coldwater conservation, they made life-long friends along the way.
What’s so life changing about TU’s Youth Camps and Academies? Many campers point to the opportunity to partner with a mentor from TU. It’s simply the experience of being on the water with someone who knows just the right fly to cast to just the right spot for a rising trout. A mentor’s chance to impart knowledge and share their passion is enough to change the life of a young person – it’s that powerful.
At Trout Unlimited, we have many kinds of educators, in both formal and non-formal settings, all of whom work with young people through the Stream of Engagement, our string of programs that connect opportunities from kindergarten to college. Most of our educators are grassroots volunteers that selflessly give their time to teach kids about fly fishing and conservation.
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end we are thinking about all the ways TU’s volunteers, partners, and Salmon/Trout in the Classroom (S/TIC) teachers make a major impact in their communities by developing the next generation of river stewards.
Whether you are doing the riffle dance to kick up macroinvertebrate aquatic insects at a STREAM Girls event, helping a middle-schooler perfect their snap at the end of their cast, or teaching the nitrogen cycle to a classroom of 5th graders raising a salmonid from egg to fry, you are doing your part to get young people thinking about clean and healthy water systems.
Thank you. Your collective efforts are moving the needle toward a brighter future for humans and trout alike.
Hats off to all you educators out there. You don’t need an education degree to teach a kid about healthy streams, but you do need a positive attitude and like to have fun. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering for one of our many meaningful youth programs.