Community Featured

We are TU: Elizabeth Peterson

All photos courtesy of Elizabeth Peterson

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The aim of this blog series is to highlight our friends, in hopes of making many new friends of broad stripes. In this series you’ll meet people of diverse communities – our good ideas, what we have in common, and where we differ. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them here

Since it’s not possible to sit down and have coffee or spend an afternoon on the river to show you what we’re up to, a blog post will have to do. As you read, we hope you’ll consider joining us. We need your ideas to help make a bigger impact.   

Together, we’ll help protect the special places we love.   

Elizabeth is a certified fishing instructor and the president of her chapter, Naugatuck Pomperaug. Her nomination said, “She has breathed new life” into the chapter, which with her help, went on to complete a major river cleanup. It continues, “She is a driving force in diversity and inclusion efforts in our state. She is also the first female president of our chapter.”

Introducing Elizabeth Peterson

I was taught from a very young age, in regard to the environment and conservation, to try to leave the places I visit a little better than I found them. I have tried to carry that idea with me in all I do, and as a Mom and teacher, instill the same in my children.

Elizabeth Peterson

What’s your hometown and current town? Born and raised in Watertown Conn., currently residing in Beacon Falls, Conn. 

What’s your history with conservation? I have been raised outdoors, from the time I was 6-1/2 months old and long before I was around, my family has hiked, camped, fished and had a very strong appreciation for everything that is around us. I was taught from a very young age, in regards to the environment and conservation, to try to leave the places I visit a little better than I found them. I have tried to carry that idea with me in all I do, and as a mom and teacher, instill the same in my children. I have furthered my education and efforts in conservation as a volunteer leader in Naugatuck Pomperaug Trout Unlimited, assisting in applying for our latest Embrace a Stream grant, and more recently, planning for our project. 

What is your history with fishing? I’ve been fishing (many different methods) since I could hold a rod. My family still opens Connecticut trout season with a weekend of camping, fishing and our huge extended family at the same state park as we have for well over 65 years. I can often be found on the water, and most of the time, there is plenty of fishing gear to be found in my car, and even a “fishing room” in my home. I am an instructor for the Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education Program, and thoroughly enjoy sharing my love of fishing with those new to the water. 

Describe one challenge you face and how do you overcome it. One challenge I face is moving forward with confidence. I often allow myself to pause and bow to self doubt. Much of the time, this is not warranted. I often have the skills, knowledge or information required for success. I just second-guess those things. As I mature and take more responsibility in different roles in my life, I realize that I am my own worst critic, and while I may not always be right, my idea may not always be best, and I may not always succeed in the way that I pictured, if I don’t share my thoughts and efforts, I block my own chances at success, happiness or confidence. 

What does ‘giving back’ mean to you? To me, “giving back” means acknowledging all of the things and experiences I have been lucky enough to have in my life, and paying it forward by sharing them, or preserving the opportunities for others to know what I have known. There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing my knowledge with others and then watching them take that knowledge and use it.  

Describe a perfect day. My perfect day is waking up in my tent, to the smell of a cool spring morning, bumbling around to get myself dressed and ready (and prepare some coffee) to head out on the water in a small state park that my family has camped and fished for over 70 years. Spending the day fishing, eating telling fish stories and remembering those who have gone before with family and friends. No worries, no cares, watching our children enjoy all of the things that we enjoyed in years gone by, embracing nature, family and love.    

What’s one of your quirks? One of my quirks is the innate need to play in any body of water I come upon. Lakes, ponds, rivers, brooks, the ocean. Those who are close to me know that if any body of water is near, shoes will be coming off, pants will be rolled up, and we will be getting our toes and if it’s warm enough, our entire bodies wet with no regrets! This is especially true is there are youngsters in our company! 

What advice would you give your younger self? The advice I would give my younger self … you are far more capable than you give yourself credit for. Doubt will always be there, but if you feel that something is important, go for it. Do it truthfully and with good intentions, and get it done! 

What do you want to see in the future of Trout Unlimited or in conservation? For TU, I look forward to seeing the move to a more inclusive and united front in our mission to further the conservation of our cold water fisheries. For conservation, I hope to see movement toward education. The more educated someone is as to the “whys” of conservation and the needs of our environment, the more likely they are to become an active conservationist! 

What is an example of something awesome you’ve seen that helps make conservation or fishing more inclusive to new groups of people? One of the awesome things that I’ve seen that is making fishing more inclusive is something that I’ve been lucky enough to become an active participant in. In Connecticut, we have a program through our fisheries department called Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education. We have about 800 volunteers trained to teach residents to fish free of charge through free classes, free family fishing days and other events held throughout the year. While I love the peace that fishing brings me, as a certified fishing instructor, the fishing events where we are spending time helping people from all walks of life have become one of the highlights of my year! 

Name a person you admire. Why do you admire them? There are far too many people that I admire to name just one, especially when it comes to fishing and conservation. From my grandparents, parents and family that have engaged me in both since I was a baby, to my brothers and sisters and my husband who embrace both fishing and conservation while sharing it with the next generations. The people I have met and built relationships through TU who have not only been mentors, but have become true friends. Basically, anyone willing to share the gifts of fishing and conservation, and take the time to share the good are people whom I truly admire. 

Why Trout Unlimited? TU for me is both a legacy and the future, I am currently the president of the chapter that evolved from the chapter that my grandfather was active in many, many years ago, working to conserve and preserve the waterways that he, my family and I have appreciated for future generations. 

If you want to join Elizabeth and grow the community and work of Trout Unlimited, we encourage you to join us! For a discounted first-time membership, click here: 

By Jenny Weis.