Community Diversity Featured

We are TU: Emily Heath

Rev. Dr. Emily C Heath

We care about clean water, healthy fisheries and vibrant communities. We roll up our sleeves to volunteer, we sit on our boards, and we strategize as members and leaders of staff. We want you to join us.  For a discounted first-time membership, click here: 

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.   

Rev. Dr. E. Carrington Heath is a United Church of Christ minister in Exeter, New Hampshire, and a writer and theologian. An avid fly angler in the LGBTQ community, Emily has participated in some of TU’s equity and inclusion discussions. We know we have a great deal more to learn from Emily and are excited to introduce them to you today.

Note: In keeping with our ongoing equity practice, the “We are TU” series is focusing more directly on the need to foster a more equitable, diverse and inclusive fishing and conservation community. We have updated the questions as such. If we are to protect, conserve and restore our rivers and streams, we will need all voices at the table and all hands on deck.

Introducing Emily Heath

Twitter: @emilycheath Instagram: @ecarringtonheath

Hometown/current town: I grew up in the South but now live in Exeter, NH

What’s your history with conservation? I’ve always cared about the environment, but when I started fly fishing I began to see crucial connections between the health of our rivers and streams and the health of the planet as a whole. 

Don’t be afraid to be your whole self, and never believe that there are spaces that should be closed to you because of it. 

Emily Heath

What is your history with fly fishing? I was curious about fly fishing for a long time, but I didn’t really try it until I lived near a trout stream in Vermont. The guys at the Orvis flagship store got me set up, and I started exploring rivers on my own. When I moved to NH a year later, it took me a while to find new places to fish. Once I did, I was committed. I fish a stream not far from my home and office all spring, drive north in the summers, and then come back to my home stream in the fall. 

Our membership and representation aren’t reflective of the diversity in the fishing and river-loving communities. How has the lack of diversity in fishing and conservation impacted your enjoyment of those activities? I was curious whether there might be other LGBTQ fly anglers out there, because I hadn’t met many. So, I posted in a fly fishing group on Facebook that was local to my state, just asking if others wanted to connect. Some of the responses were truly vile. Far from addressing the comments, the admin told me I shouldn’t have posted something “political” and blocked me from the group. I spent a long time after that wondering if I wanted to be a part of the fly fishing community.

What does ‘giving back’ mean to you? I’ve benefited from a lot of folks who have taken the time to teach me new skills on the river. When new folks ask me for advice, I’m always glad to pass on the knowledge. In a larger sense, I get a lot of joy from fly fishing. The least I can do to give back is to use my voice to help protect the trout and the rivers that I enjoy so much. 

What would you grab if your house was on fire? (Don’t worry! Your humans/pets are already safe!) A wooden box that was built by my great-great-great-grandfather in the early 1800s. He lived not far from where I live and fish, and it’s a tangible connection to my roots. 

If you could squeeze just one more thing into your regular routine, what would it be? That’s pretty easy…more fishing. 

If you could give advice to your younger self, what advice would you give?  Don’t be afraid to be your whole self, and never believe that there are spaces that should be closed to you because of it. 

Are you willing to share ideas for ways your average TU member can show up as an ally to communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the fishing and conservation world? If you see something bigoted or unkind, say something. Silence is a choice, and it communicates very clearly to the person being harmed that you do not care about them. 

What is an example of something awesome you’ve seen that helps make conservation or fishing more inclusive to new groups of people? Brown Folks Fishing has a great Instagram feed. I always love seeing what they post. 

Emily (right) pictured with their wife.

Name a person you admire. Why do you admire them? My wife. She was born extremely premature at 2 lbs, 10 ozs. Doctors said she would die within days. Instead, she fought to live, and has been fighting ever since. She an amazing person who works for justice for others every day. 

If you see something bigoted or unkind, say something. Silence is a choice, and it communicates very clearly to the person being harmed that you do not care about them. 

Emily Heath

Why Trout Unlimited? I’m a pastor, and in my faith tradition we are taught to take care of every good thing that has been given to us. When I fish I think about that a lot. It’s part of my job as a fly angler to take care of these special places that I love. Trout Unlimited works to ensure that the waters and fish we love will be around, and hopefully cleaner and healthier, for generations to come. 

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