National Leadership Council Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workgroup
In 2011, TU organized an initiative under the National Leadership Council to focus on engaging more women through our chapters and councils. The Women’s Initiative engaged in membership drives, recruited and trained volunteers at the local level to put on events and activities geared towards women across the country, and created a number of resources for women in leadership and encouraged their continued involvement. (Resources can be found on the sidebar to this page.)
In 2016, the NLC workgroup evolved to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workgroup and developed the following mission: To create effective strategies and programs to recruit a more diverse membership profile in TU; encourage diversity within leadership at the chapter, state and national levels; and to ensure every chapter creates a welcoming environment for TU members of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and cultures to achieve the TU conservation mission.
Join the monthly calls of the NLC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workgroup. They are held the third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m. Eastern. Be prepared to hear from other volunteers with TU about their experiences working on diversity and inclusion at the local level, and we invite you to share your experiences as well.
Learn more about our inclusion effort in this message map.
The Kerri Russell Equity Fund
THE KERRI RUSSELL EQUITY FUND honor’s longtime TU member and leader, Kerri Russell’s legacy, including her decade-long commitment to bolster TU’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. TU seeks to uncover new opportunities to deepen and grow diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the organization, and specifically aims this opportunity at supporting those efforts at the local chapter or state council level.
This small grant program will provide funding directly to chapters/ councils in order to support a range of activities designed to make TU chapters and councils more inclusive and equitable. Average grants will range between $2,500 and $5,000. A broad array of activities will be considered eligible for support; however, chapters and councils will only be eligible for funding if they demonstrate past engagement in DEI training for the board or they complete TU’s diversity and inclusion basic training through EverFi. Funds sought to support DEI board training will not need to meet this pre-requisite criteria, and supporting chapter/ council board DEI training will be a priority for the review committee. The committee will review grants on a rolling basis every 45 days.
Diversity, equity and inclusion resources
The following are just some of the diversity and inclusion related resources available TU volunteer leaders. As always, reach out to your council leaders, your diversity and inclusion regional representative or the TU Volunteer Operations staff for questions or to talk about your local interests.
- Take the time to read, listen, learn about diversity, equity and inclusion. A list of anti-racist learning materials is linked in the sidebar.
- In order to ensure your efforts are meaningful and change-making, invest in providing opportunities for personal growth for your leadership around equity by creating time, space and support for vulnerable conversations and learning. Discuss goals and expectations for your role (Council Diversity Initiative Chair, Chapter Diversity Initiative Chair).
- There are numerous facilitators and professional consultants trained to help you begin or deepen your work on this. Do not expect people of color to help your chapter/ council through this for free.
- Evaluate community interest, the resources available and the impact of collaborative efforts in the communities you seek to engage. Spend time listening before asking how we might work together. For instance, if you are looking to build relationships with your Hispanic and Latino community members, start by reviewing the River Network’s Best Practices Guide to Engaging Latino and Hispanic Community Members. Each community may have different goals and interests.
- Don’t go it alone. Build collaborative relationships with local community partners to understand existing community needs and to accomplish your diversity and inclusion goals. Your best role may be to lead from behind.
- Learn from other chapters and your council. Attend council meetings, regional rendezvous, engage in the TU online Leaders Forum and participate in the Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup offerings to learn from other’s successes and missteps. For instance, your team may find this Leaders Forum discussion on engaging Hispanic and Latino community members insightful.
- Be sure that diversity and inclusion are interwoven into and core to your chapter or council strategic plan.
- Organize a board committee to focus on diversity and inclusion efforts and help facilitate inclusion efforts throughout your chapter and council’s efforts.
- Identify individuals with the skills and personality to lead. Review sample chapter and council specific position descriptions related to diversity and inclusion, create your own, and consider assigning a point person to certain roles.
- Establish a sense of belonging for everyone at your current events. Review your existing offerings to remedy participation barriers (e.g. location, timing, marketing, access). Address factors that impact your efforts to set a strong foundation for the future. Small adaptions like a change in venue or more lead time in your communications plan can result in major impacts.
- Orient yourself with the Tacklebox resources. Resources like this “how to” guide – One TU Youth Education Report – may help your chapter frame goals to guide you to success. Review the Women’s Initiative resources to support your efforts.
- Budget. Make sure that your chapter or council budgets appropriately to set your diversity and inclusion efforts up for success.
Promote your chapter/ council to new audiences:
- Your chapter can order copies of our Stream Explorers magazines online at and have them printed with your own chapter name, website address, contact information and more printed right on them so anyone you hand them to can learn more about TU and easily find your chapter.
- Incorporate aspirational communications with positive language, full event details and images of target demographics (people of color, women, youth, etc…) in your communications. You may find the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s toolkit helpful to reflect Latino and Hispanic community members. Consider hiring photographers (writers, artists, videographers, etc…) of color to support their work, form new relationships within your community and deepen your well of aspirational imagery, writing, art and more.
- Meet people where they are. For example, if your chapter would like to engage with the Latino community, build relations through genuine community connections and gatherings (churches, community centers, etc…). You may find this Leaders Forum discussion insightful.
Create events catered to target demographics:
- Learn from the NLC’s Women’s Initiative on their ideas for women’s focused meetings and seminars and other chapters on their events in the Leaders Forum.
- View this video on organizing an introductory fly fishing clinic and these chapter templates for women’s seminar programs and planning documents.
- Plan a meaningful youth education event with guidance from this two-page synopsis.
- Start new youth education programs like Trout in the Classroom, STREAM Girls or a TU 5 Rivers College clubs.
- Get your chapter started with a Veterans Service Partnership (VSP) program locally with our vast suite of VSP resources.
Invite and support new leaders:
- Make sure diversity is a target for your chapter or council’s leadership recruitment or nominating committee.
- Share with people interested in national-level leadership how the Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup of the NLC operates.
- Consider sending an active chapter teenager to the TU Teen Summit, so that they might stay involved with the national-level Youth Leadership Council.
- Consider sending a veteran that you’ve engaged to a nationally sponsored trip, so that they might stay involved with the national VSP. For more information, contact TU Veterans Service Partnership staff.